May 10, 2019

Blood pumps through a bag as physicians perform open heart surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) 

This piece originally aired on November 17th, 2018.

The Grinch’s is two sizes too small. Al Green wants to know how you can mend a broken one. You can destroy them, steal them, break them. They can pine or ache or wander. Suffice it to say, hearts are a big part of our culture. After all, though our kidneys are vital, there aren’t many pop songs about them. Still, as important as they are to our culture, our hearts are even more important to our health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and chances are that you know someone who has been affected by heart issues. Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and author of Heart: A History, takes a look at how we address heart health, and how we could do better.

Three Takeaways:

  • People sing about broken hearts all the time… but it’s an actual medical condition. Jauhar says that “when people suffer intense emotional upset, they can develop what is commonly known as the broken-heart syndrome.”
  • Jauhar points out that our emotional lives are intrinsically linked to the health of our hearts. Doctors and public health officials have typically focused on issues like obesity and smoking when thinking about heart health, and while Jauhar acknowledges that those are important, he wants to see more attention paid to people’s psychological well-being.
  • So if you want to have a healthy heart… think about developing strong relationships and becoming part of your community. According to a study conducted by Michael Marmot that focused on Japanese immigrants to the U.S., even controlling for factors like diet and exercise, people who had stronger links to their community had healthier hearts. 

More Reading:

Body and Mind, Sandeep Jauhar, Heart, health

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