By Dr. Madhav Prabhu
Today is international heart day, no is not like valentines day and you can’t give and take each other’s heart today. It’s just a day when you have to be more aware of your own heart and take care of your heart.
In my view heart is the least understood organ in the body. The heart is sometimes given more importance in romance than it should be. Let’s be clear when you feel attracted to someone it’s actually your brain releasing harmonies like oxytocin and dopamine which makes you fall in love. In fact the brain perceives the love as a reward just like it perceives food, music and so on. Actually, the brain has a reward and punishment areas, which are stimulated and depressed when it receives good and bad things in life. Good things are like rewards and pain is like punishment. So each time you see the face you love it’s actually the brain seeking the reward of his or her company. Each time you see something more beautiful, the brain seeks further reward and that’s what we call love. Nothing to do with the heart which only beats faster in response to the hormones the brain secretes.
Love is like addiction, Love and addiction actually stimulate the same areas of the brain and give a similar high, you know you cannot get rid of addictions right, it’s the same with love. Love does not sometimes last long and here too it’s not the heart that’s broken but the brain which feels the punishment, sometimes love seems inadequate just like the dose of cocaine if you are addicted to it, you need more quantities and are never satisfied, well it’s the brain which now has an higher threshold to reward and little is not enough and one person is also sometimes not, so you need weed and alcohol together and this is like flirting with many. And in this entire process, it is the heart which is blamed, I lost my heart to you, I have given my heart to you, my heart is broken, my heart ails for you is entirely only an overstated lie, it’s actually the brain that losses its senses for more rewards. I guess it is believed so for centuries because the brain sounds so unromantic, my brain is with you, my brain is broken, sounds so like a professor at the University. The heart is involved in love just as much as a politician is involved in good work, it only gets the credit. I pity the heart though, blamed by so many for something it never does.
Well now you understand why a broken heart makes you an alcoholic, it’s actually the brain which wants to forget all, and getting addicted to alcohol is an attempt to get rewards which absence of love has not given. Ps “it stimulates the same area of the brain”, the heart actually is happy with a peg or two per day.
There is also so much misunderstanding about the shape of the heart too. The commercial version of the heart is perfectly symmetrical, like an almond, it has beautiful curves and can take a bright red color. This is completely different from what we study in anatomy and that’s why doctors are so unromantic. The actual heart looks like your folded wrist and is sized that much too, its brownish because of the muscles, white because of cartilage and yellow because of the covering fat, its always covered with a white sheet called the pericardial, it’s nowhere close to what pillows are available in the market. I guess the shape of the commercially available hearts is nothing but a conspiracy to sell more as nobody would like a status of an actual heart-shaped pillow or balloon, it’s also difficult to draw and you can’t pass an arrow through it.
If the brain was responsible for love, we should have gifted brain shaped balloons but that looks much more ugly, so best is to modify the heart into something which sells. When I see hoardings of politicians, it actually makes me feel the same, you make them into something else that can sell.
Now you can sympathize with the heart right, it is given credit for something it is not responsible for and it can never be presentable in its real shape, how would you feel if you had to face all this. A person having a big heart is one who accommodated and loves all, but in reality, a big heart means swollen muscles and invariably leads to failure.
This having said we have to understand what the heart actually does, it is nothing but a pump, it has electrical circuits, it has blood vessels and it has muscles which pump the blood and your doctors are basically electricians cum plumbers, they open chocked vessels and restore electrical activity. This pump, however, is always as excited as a newly married bride. It pumps blood come what may and is not programmed to stop, it just has to have a perfect supply of blood like a motor needs oil and perfect conduction system like a pump set needs electricity. It beats till it can and sometimes even if the brain stops working and that’s why life stops when the heart stops.
This pump is actually low on maintenance, all it asks for is some good exercise to maintain tone, it tolerates a drink per day but not the smoke, you have to get pressures and sugars checked regularly after forty but that’s not all that difficult and yes if you do all this don’t worry about cholesterol.
Fall in love, indulge, have a ball, but take care of your heart, visit a friendly doctor, a good looking one can help as the brain can get addicted to him and don’t get too tense.