The new book, Heart: A History, by Cardiologist, Sandeep Jauhar is a beautifully written account of his own family history of heart disease intermixed with the developments of the last 100 years in the field of heart medicine and stories of his own patients. Dr. Jauhar refers to the heart as, “the engine of life” which has held mystery, spiritual meaning and is seen as the seat of the emotions across many cultures through the ages. The heart image is most associated with romantic love and connection.
Dr. Jauhar gives new life to the history of incredible advancements in the field of cardiology from a time when doctors didn’t even understand how blood circulated around the body. Strict rules on cardiac experimentation led one cardiologist to insert a catheter in his own arm in order to make advances in the field. Dr. Juahar chronicles the history of the heart/lung machine, the first heart surgery, and the pacemaker.
Despite these ground-breaking discoveries and all the lives that have been saved, Dr. Jauhar asserts that medical technology has its limitations. He states that for further progress in the field of cardiology to be made, focus on psychosocial factors linking our hearts to our work-life, communities, families and our minds is the key to health and longevity.
Dr. Naras Bhat, a cardiologist from California, states that “treating heart disease is sitting on a three legged stool.” 1) Plumbing blockage of kinked or clogged coronary arteries, 2) blood borne disease of correcting abnormal cholesterol levels, and 3) emotional balance by stress control. He asserts that, “You need support from each leg of the stool.”
Type D, or Distressed Personality has recently been identified as a risk factor for Coronary Heart Disease, (CHD). The Distressed Type is characterized by a combination of social inhibition and negative affectivity which occurs in approximately 1 in 4 patients with CHD. Addressing the third leg of the stool can be pretty scary for people who have to first recognize that their heart needs some assistance in maintaining its steady unrelenting beat. In the field of neurobiology, Dr. Steven Porges recently discovered and mapped the human nervous system. He biologically connects the autonomic nervous system with the heart. He states that, “all humans just want to feel safe.” Understanding how the heart is affected by its surrounding environment and internal cues helps therapists teach their patients tools for stress management.
It is very up lifting and a safe feeling for patients to know that they are not stuck in emotional states and that they can directly and positively change heart-connected reactions. Stress management that includes working with the autonomic pathways to the heart can reduce fear, and increase positivity. This new emotional state leads to new abilities such as; being more active, better food choices, relaxation, taking in the beauty of nature and enjoying relationships with those around you. By addressing the three legs of the stool, you can rest knowing you are doing your best at caring for your heart.
Lauren A. Salani, LCSW, BCB. Stress Relief Services, Atlantic Executive Center 107 Monmouth Road, Suite 104 West Long Branch, New Jersey 07764. If you are interested in learning skills to reduce stress in a warm, caring professional environment, please call 732.542.2638 for an appointment. Or for more information visit StressReliefServices.com