Heart Disease

Happy Valentine’s Day.  I know that this day gets mixed reviews, but I like it.  Red is my favorite color and not being able to shake my inner child, I like an excuse to dot my “I’s” with little hearts.  I know that I am buying into Hallmark’s master plan, but I don’t care.  It is red balloons, teddy bears and heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast; heart-shaped sandwiches with love notes for lunch, and pink penne a la vodka with shrimp for dinner — a great excuse to have some red wine.  I may be oozing cheddar today but it is only once a year.  I do try to limit my cheese on the other 364 days of the year.  At mass this morning, Father Tom said it well, … “It is a great day to let the people you care about know how much you love them.  It is a great day to try to love everyone.”  I figure that even if you are not Catholic, that holds more weight than if you just hear it from me.   It is only fitting that YesFive covers heart disease this week.  But it is warm outside, the sun is trying to break through and as you can tell, I am in a loving mood.  I can’t jump right into the bad stuff so, I am going to use today to tell you how amazing your heart is.

1.  Your heart started beating five weeks after conception – at about the same time your mother realized she wasn’t alone.  It will continue, incessantly, until you die – sort of like your children asking for stuff.  It beats about 100,000  times a day — if I had a nickel for every …

2.  Your heart is about the size of two of your fists and is located in the center of your chest.  The bottom tilts a little toward the left.  An adult heart weighs a little over 1/2 pound.  It does the most work of any muscle or organ in the body.

3.  Each beat pumps oxygen-filled blood from the heart to the rest of the body through your circulatory system.  If all of your arteries, veins and capillaries were stretched out, they would extend about 60,000 miles.  About 2,000 gallons of blood move through the heart each day.  A kitchen faucet would have to be turned on all of the way for about 45 years to match the amount of blood that is pumped through the heart in the average lifetime.

4.  Like all organs, the heart needs a good supply of oxygenated blood to nourish its tissues.  The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart itself, and it is their health that is of utmost importance for maintaining a healthy heart.  This is one of those facts that you probably know but might not think about.  It will be good to remember when we get to the post-Valentine’s Day depressing topics like coronary artery disease.

5.  If you detach the heart from the body but maintain its oxygen supply, it can continue to beat on its own – with no input from the brain.  It is an involuntary muscle.  This independent nature of the heart was further evidenced at the Grammy’s last night if you looked at some of the very interesting pairings in the audience.  There is no other way to explain certain love connections like JLo and Mark Anthony; Kate Hudson and the guy from Muse – just an opinion.

Hopefully, getting a sense of how fascinating and wonderful your heart is will inspire you to not only take care of it, but to take care of the people you love on this corny day.  Get on the treadmill, drink a smoothie, play a love song and pick up some flowers.  A little warmth and love should be a welcome break from all the cold and snow.

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