Some days it’s awe-inspiring to think about how we came to exist, about how all the matter in the universe started with one big bang and over billions of years formed our stars, planets, atmospheres, jellyfish… and ourselves.
Turning that gaze inwards, we find our hearts: amazing, finely tuned pumps that work tirelessly to keep us alive.
Here are a few choice facts about your amazing ticker.
1. Your heart is a finely tuned machine – and it never rests
The average human heart beats 60 to 100 times a minute, the muscular metronome pushing blood around our bodies to keep every other part functioning with sweet, sweet oxygen. That’s about 100,000 beats a day, or over the course of a 70-year lifespan, a staggering 2.5 billion beats.
And, barring technical difficulties, it just keeps on tickin’. So the next time you take a weekend nap, spare a thought for your loyal heart, slaving away while you slumber.
2. Broken-heart syndrome is real
Our bodies are closely linked with our emotional and mental health, and it turns out, in some cases, stress and sadness can (temporarily) break your heart.
Known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, broken-heart syndrome mainly affects women, weakening the left ventricle and causing symptoms similar to a heart attack.
The condition happens after certain stressful events, such as receiving terrible news, losing a loved one, experiencing severe pain or serious illness. Fortunately while the syndrome can cause heart failure for some people, most people recover within a couple of months.
3. It keeps time to an electro beat
You’ve got a natural pacemaker in your heart, sending out electrical impulses to keep it beating at the right pace.
But if that stops working, you can have an artificial pacemaker inserted, with wires connected to your heart’s chambers to send those same electrical currents to keep your heart pumping. The heart doesn’t mind where it’s getting its orders from – it just keeps on ticking away.
4. After a heart attack, cardiac rehab can make a big difference
If you suffer a heart attack, cardiac rehabilitation makes a big difference in helping you return to your normal activities.
In Australia we’re fortunate to have specialised cardiac rehab programs, personalised by health professionals to help you get back to normal sooner. We’ve even developed an app called Cardihab that can support patients through their rehab journeys.
5. The good news: there are things you can do to keep your heart healthy
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia, for both men and women. But take heart: there are plenty of things you can do to help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, including:
- Exercising regularly
- Eating well, and being in a healthy weight range
- Not smoking
- Having healthy blood pressure and cholesterol
- Looking after your mental health
- Managing diabetes.
None of this is new news, but changing your lifestyle can be a real challenge, particularly if you have pre-existing conditions or injuries that dial the difficulty up a level.
But the buck stops with us. We don’t all have to become enthusiastic joggers, but every little effort adds up – whether that’s walking, sport, goat yoga or jazzercise.