Getting to the heart of the matter
It’s that time of year when our attention turns to letting others know what’s in our heart with cards and other Valentine-related gifts. It’s also a perfect opportunity to get to the a’hearta’ of the matter about one of the most popular holidays of the year with some fun facts.
The iconic heart shape as a symbol of love is traditionally thought to come from the silphium plant discovered in ancient times. However, it was Plato’s idea that the brain was responsible for reasoning and the heart responsible for passions. Modern-day researchers take a more pragmatic approach offering such statistics as: your heart beats about 115,000 times and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood a day. In the average lifetime, that’s enough to fill a total of two hundred train tank cars which is equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of blood! If you were to stretch out your blood vessel system, it would extend over 60,000 miles.
Medically speaking the first open-heart surgery occurred in 1993 performed by Daniel Hale Williams. The first implantable pacemaker was used in 1958. Arne Larsson, who received the pacemaker, lived longer than the surgeon who implanted it. The youngest person to receive heart surgery was only a minute old. She had a heart defect that many babies don’t survive. Her surgery was successful, but she’ll eventually need a heart transplant. Heart disease was first found in a 3,500 year old Egyptian mummy.
A woman’s heart beats slightly faster than a man’s. An average human heart is the size of an adult fist. The heart weighs less than a pound although a man’s heart generally weighs 2 ounces more. No reasons given so we’ll leave it at that. The fairy fly, a kind of wasp, has the smallest heart of any living creature and whales have the largest heart of any mammal. The giraffe has a lopsided heart, with their left ventricle being thicker than the right because the left side has to get blood up the giraffe’s long neck to reach its brain.
Laughing is good for your heart. It reduces stress and boosts your immune system. It also helps prevent a broken heart, an actual medical syndrome, caused by a rush of stress hormones from an emotional or physical stress event. Your heart affects every part of your body which is makes diet and lifestyle choices very important for maintaining healthy emotional and physical well-being. As you’re remembering others with sentiments and such this Valentine’s, be mindful of your own heart to enjoy a happy heart’s day…every day!
Originally published in the OC Register, Laguna Woods Globe, February 8, 2018