Thursday, May 16, 2013

Have a Heart

This is dedicated to my dad who is having open heart surgery tomorrow...

In medical school we learn everything about the heart. We learn about the aortic valve, the chordae tendineae, end diastolic volume and myocardial infactions. We open the heart and scrutinize all its different parts. We calculate cardiac outputs and inspect its silhouette on chest X-rays, but we forget about our first lesson we ever learned about the heart, that it is for love.

What am I saying? I am a medical student, of course I know the heart has nothing to do with emotion, but that's where I am wrong.

When I heard my dad had to have open heart surgery I was angry, I didn't see why it had to be my dad. He has such a big heart, he is so giving and very loving. I then felt scared, this is such a big procedure and I am on the other side of the country. The heart is such an important organ, it pumps your blood everywhere around the body. Then I realized that the heart does carry an emotional aspect. Its such an important yet vulnerable organ, any problem with it instills many emotions in the person it belongs to and the people who love that person.

When you say someone has a big heart, its not that they have cardiomegly due to left ventricular hypertrophy, but that they are giving and warm. They love unconditionally and they spend their lives making other people happy. Therefore my dad has a huge heart.

Where do emotions come from? well your brain and all the neurons in it. Emotions come from the limbic system, higher order function of the brain. The limbic system along with other parts of the brain like the amygdala (fear), help humans feel emotion. To function these parts of the brain require oxygen, which is carried in the blood which is pumped by the heart. Therefore without the heart you would not have a functioning brain and therefore no emotion, the most important being love.

At one point someone must have decided that a big heart means more blood to the brain, although cardiomegaly (enlarged heart) usually has the opposite effect, the saying stuck.

You know that feeling you get when your heart beats really fast (tachycardia) when your nervous or when your excited? These are regulated by emotion, so not only does the heart supply the brain which creates emotion, your heart also responds to emotion. Your heart slows down and speeds up based on your emotional state. This helps pump the required amount of blood to all parts of your body so you can use your muscles to hug, your lips to feel a kiss, your eyes to see someone who you love.

Therefore your heart is entwined with human emotion, especially love. The next time someone says that the heart is the organ of love you can think of its huge role in human emotion.


  1. You are my hero girl

  2. Just found u! & I luv u already..... with my Heart! :-) #futureMedStudent

    1. Thanks. I wish u luck in your endeavors. Let me know if you need any tips.