exploring the State of the Heart – a book review

Since my blog’s tag line is “exploring the HEART of health”, I couldn’t pass up the chance to read a book about exploring the heart. State of the Heart by cardiologist Dr. Haider Warraich explores the history, science, and future of cardiac disease.

Since my blog’s tag line is “exploring the HEART of health”, I couldn’t pass up the chance to read a book about exploring the heart. State of the Heart by cardiologist Dr. Haider Warraich explores the history, science, and future of cardiac disease.

Considering the current concern about heart disease and emphasis on heart health, it’s hard to believe that in ancient times people did not consider the heart a vital organ. The liver was revered as the driving force of the circulation responsible for maintaining life. Even now, the heart is sometimes thought of as just a pump, and not the complex organ that it is.

Dr. Warraich weaves the heart’s story with threads of medical history, explanations of basic cardiac anatomy and physiology, and stories about real patients he has treated for a variety of heart conditions.

  • The congestive heart failure patient who didn’t know he had heart failure
  • The woman who had a heart attack but whose coronary arteries were clear
  • The man who needed a heart transplant to stay alive but couldn’t afford the anti-rejection drugs
  • The man who couldn’t die until his mechanical heart (LVAD) was turned off

In this interview Dr. Warraich speaks with Nam Kiwanuka about advances and stumbles in the medical treatment of heart disease, a condition that kills more people annually than cancer.

Please review these previous posts from this blog that explain the heart, heart disease, and heart health.

Exploring the Heart

Our brain controls the actions of the body’s other organs, but the heart supplies the power that keeps everything working smoothly, including the brain. Using the intricate “highway” system of arteries and veins, the heart pumps blood carrying oxygen, water, and nutrients to every cell in the body. Learn more in this post.

photo by Dr. Aletha, an exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Exploring Heart Disease

Although we use the term HEART DISEASE , there are many diseases that involve the heart.  HEART conditions affect people from birth to death. Find out more in this post.

Our modern lifestyles are particularly harsh on the heart-our diets, our lack of exercise, and the stress we expose ourselves to-

Dr. Warraich in State of the Heart

Keys to a Healthy Heart

In this post I share 7 factors that make you at risk of heart disease , 7 symptoms you should not ignore, and 7 ways to keep your heart healthy. (Hint-Dr. Warraich mentions 3 in the quote above.)

Health is a lifelong expedition

Thanks for joining me to explore the heart, heart disease, and this new book by Dr. Warraich. Find it at your local public library or consider purchasing at one of these affiliate links which help me fund this blog.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Exploring -when HEARTS break

understanding common heart conditions

 

Anyone who has ever had a “broken heart” (and who hasn’t?) knows that sadness and grief cause not just emotional pain, but also physical pain. And since that pain is often felt in our chest, it makes sense that we call it “heart break”.

The late Elvis Presley made the expression famous with his breakout hit Heartbreak Hotel.  And a particularly gruesome battle during the Korean War occurred at a place named Heartbreak Ridge, dramatized in a movie The Battle of Heartbreak Ridge.

 

In this post I’m going to explain some of the ways our physical HEARTS can break.

Last week I gave you a brief overview of the human HEART and how it works.. Here’s the link in case you missed it. It will help before you read this post.

Exploring -the HEART

 

We often use the term HEART DISEASE when there are many diseases that involve the heart.  HEART conditions affect people from birth to death.

diagram of the human heart
Heart diseases affect any and sometimes multiple parts of the heart- the atria, ventricles, the valves, the aorta, the pulmonary artery and veins, the walls and the coronary arteries (not shown in this diagram. )
 

 

 

 

Heart problems that are present at birth are called congenital heart disease. Signs or symptoms may be not apparent for a few weeks or months.

  • A congenital heart defect is a problem with the structure of the heart. It is present at birth.
  • Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect.
  • The defects can involve the walls of the heart, the valves of the heart, and the arteries and veins near the heart.
  • They can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart. The blood flow can slow down, go in the wrong direction or to the wrong place, or be blocked completely.

 

I remember how concerned I felt when my son called to tell me the doctor had found a heart murmur in my 3-week-old granddaughter- especially since they lived 2000 miles away. An  echocardiogram showed a VSD, a ventricular septal defect– a hole between the two larger chambers of her heart. We were all relieved when the pediatric cardiologist said it was small and unlikely to cause her problems or to need surgery. She gets regular check-ups and is now a healthy, active 10 year old who does karate and loves swimming.

Other congenital heart conditions

 

In a previous post I told you about my late friend Chuck who had heart disease. Chuck had developed cardiomyopathy, disease of the heart muscle, which makes up the walls of the heart. Cardiomyopathy  has many causes including high blood pressure (if not controlled), ischemia (lack of blood flow), infections, toxins including alcohol, and sometimes unknown causes.

Cardiomyopathy can often be managed with medications and lifestyle but sometimes, as in Chuck’s case, requires heart transplantation.

Chuck’s wife Sara wrote about his heart condition as well as other medical issues in her memoir Trumped By Sovereignty.

woman holding a book
Sarah displaying her book soon after the Presidential election . Is that the President-elect’s name?
 

 

 

My late father developed diabetes mellitus which led to atherosclerosis of his coronary arteries, the arteries that carry oxygen to the heart itself. Atherosclerosis can affect any of the arteries and basically means “hardening”, hence the term hardening of the arteries.

In his case this caused a heart attack, which in medical terms is a

myocardial (heart muscle) infarction(death or damage).

From the damage to his heart muscle he developed congestive heart failure; his heart could not effectively pump blood  to his body.

EKG tracing
In sudden cardiac death, the heart stops beating abruptly
 

 

 

I still remember the night I received a phone call soon after going to bed. It was an EMT from the local ambulance service telling me he was at my parents’ home. My mother called 911 after my father collapsed at home and died from sudden cardiac death.

Sudden cardiac death occurs when someone with heart disease dies suddenly and unexpectedly. But sometimes, unlike my father’s case, the victim and family didn’t know a heart condition existed. This is often the case when someone dies from a sudden and persistent irregularity of the heart rhythm, called an arrhythmia.

old photo of man in a sailor uniform
My late  father served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War
 

Both my husband and I have hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure. This is probably the most common cardiovascular disease . Although not a heart condition, it can cause disease in the heart and other vital organs, as shown in this diagram .

 

complications of high blood pressure

 

 

Please follow any of the above links to read more about these and other heart conditions. Next post I will talk about how to keep our hearts healthy.

HEART HEALTH
We can keep our heart from breaking.
 

 

Please  leave a comment to share your own experience with heart disease or to honor a loved one with  a heart condition.