Heart Health Facts that will surprise you
Which is better for the heart: quitting smoking or having a good social life? The answer may surprise you. In honor of Heart Health Month (February), here are seven fascinating facts from Smart at Heart: A Holistic 10-Step Approach to Preventing and Healing Heart Disease for Women (Celestial Arts, $14.99) by Harvard-trained cardiologist Dr. Malissa Wood and Dimity McDowell.
•Heartache is a physical pain in the brain. In a 2011 study, psychologists discovered that thoughts of an unwanted romantic breakup and minor skin irritations both activate regions of the brain involved in physical pain. This shows the important link between our emotions, our brain, and our perception of physical pain, and explains why many of us experience physical pain with significant rejection.
•You can die of a broken heart. The husband of a patient of Dr. Wood’s died suddenly of a heart attack. Within twelve hours of his passing, his wife was admitted to the hospital with what seemed like a heart attack, too. Instead, a surge of adrenaline, brought on by the trauma of losing her husband, caused a medical condition known as apical ballooning (or more commonly broken heart syndrome). When grief is so great, the heart mimics the symptoms of a heart attack. We say you can die of a broken heart—and, as Dr. Wood’s patient almost proved, that can be true. Broken heart syndrome is just one example of the strong correlation between the emotional and physical hearts.