Thursday, May 5, 2011

How Could You Be So Heartless?

In my opinion, the heart is the most incredible machine on earth. I remember back in my anatomy class, I had a few students in the class who did not believe in God. My professor was a very intense hockey coach and liked to swear a lot (picture Kurt Russell in Miracle). Nothing bothered my professor more than having students in HIS anatomy class that still denied the existence of God. He got passionate several times throughout the semester about how incredible the human body is in this respect or that (singling out our fellow atheist classmates).

On one occasion, he was talking about how amazing the heart is. He told us that when the electrical impulse travels down through the atria and into the ventricles, there is a very slight delay (in the hundreds or thousands of a second) as it travels down which allows just enough time for all of the blood in the atria to fill their respective ventricles before the ventricles contract and send blood to the rest of the body. He then got choked up and looked several students in the eye and said, "you tell me how that was an accident! You tell me how this thousandth of a second that allows the human heart to function in the narrowest margin imaginable was an accident that without happening, would cause us to cease to exist as a species!" It was awesome, I loved this professor.

Because we all have these incredibly complex, amazingly efficient, and just plain miraculous machines working 24/7 inside each of us to keep us alive, I thought I would remind us all of some ways that we can increase the hearts ability to function in its prime for as long as possible.

#1) Make exercise a regular part of life (30-60 minutes five or more days a week).

The heart is a muscle. The more you work it, the bigger it gets and the more efficient it works. As you follow the above guideline, your heart will be able to supply your body with the necessary amount of blood, with less, more powerful strokes.

#2) Use sodium in moderation (less than 1500 mg of sodium per day, and 77% of sodium comes from restaurant and processed foods)

Too much sodium floating around in your blood stream acts like a vacuum for water, pulling lots of extra water into your blood vessels, which raises your blood pressure to dangerous levels

#3) Choose foods from all food groups, and eat a variety of foods

Choose a diet that each day includes at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables, and six servings of grains.

#4) Chose a diet low in fat (30% or less of total calories)

-Saturated fat should be less than 10% of calories
-Less than 300 mg of cholesterol daily

The reason why saturated fats (fully saturated with hydrogen atoms) are so much worse for you than mono unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (each double bond between carbons removing 2 hydrogen atoms from the molecule) is because of their actual chemical structure. Notice the saturated fat is linear, which means many of them can stack on top of each other and easily and clog your arteries as shown in the image below. The mono unsaturated fat has a bend in it, making it harder to stack on top of other mono unsaturated fats.
The plaque in this artery is mainly saturated fats that have stacked on top of each other. When enough of them stack up enough, you can see how easy it would be for a blood clot to come along and plug up the tiny hole remaining in the middle of the artery (which would cause a stroke).
So lets all take care of our hearts, for it will only be as good to us as we are to it!


indecisiveathlete said...

I saw your comment on Hungry Runner Girl's blog and decided to come check yours out. I love all medical stuff. It fascinates me. I'm a pre-vet student (I had a hard time deciding between pre-vet and pre-med but ended up falling in love with the veterinary atmosphere but I still love human medicine too) I have always been a nerd when it comes to anatomy I'm like a sponge for it I guess. My favorites are the kidney system and cardio vascular they are just so awesome and complex and the way they work and function just amazes me. I will def be a regular follower :)

Devin said...

Hey, thanks for following! A good friend of mine is in your same shoes. He moved up to Oregon for the summer to study marine life with one of his professors and a few students and absolutely loves it. Yep, renal and cardio systems are pure fascinating! I like your blog, the number 7 and peanut butter rock too!

Elise said...

Great post Dev, I've always loved learning about the heart, in another life I think I would have gone into the cardiac rehab field...
It is such a wonder to me how amazing our bodies are, when I was in college in anatomy and physiology classes it actually really strengthened my testimony of our Supreme Creator.

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