Health Topics

Healthy Living

February 2010
Heart Truisms
Dr Sreedevi Yadavalli
Growing up, we don't really think much about our heart. It's simply a vessel that reacts to excitement, fear and pain. It responds as wildly our first time on school stage as the first time we fall in love. But the heart is in its place, and we don't really think of it as potentially deceitful. That is, until we grow up to hear of someone we know die of a heart attack.

That's when we begin to realise we can't take our ticker for granted. And that's also when we begin to realise that all those 'heart' phrases and idioms we grew up on, can take on a different hue in meaning. "My heart is in my mouth" can be notoriously true for those of us with large appetites, who refuse to make the necessary lifestyle changes. Lack of exercise only compounds the problem, and no - popping pills cannot offset self-indulgence because medication without lifestyle change is just Band-Aid.

"Follow your heart" is relevant for those of us who have a family history of heart disease. We need to live with keen attention to prevention, because heart disease, regardless of genetic predisposition, can be entirely manageable, provided we start early. Working in a hospital environment, you also realise that "having a change of heart", "open heart" and "heart skipping a beat" are idioms that have different medical connotations.

The same environment also sensitizes you to the truism that "he died of a broken heart" is undoubtedly the saddest type of heart patient you can ever see. Loners who lack a supportive social network fall ill more often, are unloved and often uncared for.

So Valentine's Day is indeed a time to celebrate love, because having someone's hand to hold does have wonderful healing effects. Remember, cultivating friendship and bonding with loved ones is the best form of health insurance we can have – one we can so easily afford.