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Sunday, December 8, 2013

God's Amazing Body and Science - Part 6

The Heart

I am sure this is going to be my last post in this series or matching God and science.  It is fitting to leave the most important for the last and this organ is important to us in many ways.

I was got up late today and did not take my FBS before running off to cheuch.  I have struggled the past few days of staying the course with my eating.  I have a dog who just had surgery and most likely has cancer.  I have a lot of stress still going on at work and the Christmas season is upon us - not that it brings on stress, just a lot of good eating!!! 

Straight forward warning - this will be a long post - happy reading.

What it looks like and does

Illustration of the human heart

The heart is a muscular organ about the size of a fist, located just behind and slightly left of the breastbone. The heart pumps blood through the network of arteries and veins called the cardiovascular system.
The heart has four chambers:
  • The right atrium receives blood from the veins and pumps it to the right ventricle.
  • The right ventricle receives blood from the right atrium and pumps it to the lungs, where it is loaded with oxygen.
  • The left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it to the left ventricle.
  • The left ventricle (the strongest chamber) pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. The left ventricle’s vigorous contractions create our blood pressure.
The coronary arteries run along the surface of the heart and provide oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. A web of nerve tissue also runs through the heart, conducting the complex signals that govern contraction and relaxation. Surrounding the heart is a sac called the pericardium.

Once again I am amazed that one cannot see it took a super engineer to create such a system of moving oxygen rich life through our bodies.

Heart Conditions

There are many conditions that can effect the heart and are listed below:

Coronary artery disease: Over the years, cholesterol plaques can narrow the arteries supplying blood to the heart. The narrowed arteries are at higher risk for complete blockage from a sudden blood clot (this blockage is called a heart attack).

Stable angina pectoris: Narrowed coronary arteries cause predictable chest pain or discomfort with exertion. The blockages prevent the heart from receiving the extra oxygen needed for strenuous activity. Symptoms typically get better with rest.

Unstable angina pectoris: Chest pain or discomfort that is new, worsening, or occurs at rest. This is an emergency situation as it can precede a heart attack, serious abnormal heart rhythm, or cardiac arrest.
Myocardial infarction (heart attack): A coronary artery is suddenly blocked. Starved of oxygen, part of the heart muscle dies.

Arrhythmia (dysrhythmia): An abnormal heart rhythm due to changes in the conduction of electrical impulses through the heart. Some arrhythmias are benign, but others are life-threatening.

Congestive heart failure: The heart is either too weak or too stiff to effectively pump blood through the body. Shortness of breath and leg swelling are common symptoms.

Cardiomyopathy: A disease of heart muscle in which the heart is abnormally enlarged, thickened, and/or stiffened. As a result, the heart's ability to pump blood is weakened.

Myocarditis: Inflammation of the heart muscle, most often due to a viral infection.

Pericarditis: Inflammation of the lining of the heart (pericardium). Viral infections, kidney failure, and autoimmune conditions are common causes.

Pericardial effusion: Fluid between the lining of the heart (pericardium) and the heart itself. Often, this is due to pericarditis.

Atrial fibrillation: Abnormal electrical impulses in the atria cause an irregular heartbeat. Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common arrhythmias.

Pulmonary embolism: Typically a blood clot travels through the heart to the lungs. 

Heart valve disease: There are four heart valves, and each can develop problems. If severe, valve disease can cause congestive heart failure.

Heart murmur: An abnormal sound heard when listening to the heart with a stethoscope. Some heart murmurs are benign; others suggest heart disease.

Endocarditis: Inflammation of the inner lining or heart valves of the heart. Usually, endocarditis is due to a serious infection of the heart valves.

Mitral valve prolapse: The mitral valve is forced backward slightly after blood has passed through the valve. 

Sudden cardiac death: Death caused by a sudden loss of heart function (cardiac arrest).

Cardiac arrest: Sudden loss of heart function.

Science to the rescue as always

Science has done many good things for the heart.  There are many tests now that can be run and science has even gone so far as replacing a heart.

Tests that can be run on the heart

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): A tracing of the heart’s electrical activity. Electrocardiograms can help diagnose many heart conditions.

Echocardiogram: An ultrasound of the heart. An echocardiogram provides direct viewing of any problems with the heart muscle’s pumping ability and heart valves.

Cardiac stress test: By using a treadmill or medicines, the heart is stimulated to pump to near-maximum capacity. This may identify people with coronary artery disease.

Cardiac catheterization: A catheter is inserted into the femoral artery in the groin and threaded into the coronary arteries. A doctor can then view X-ray images of the coronary arteries or any blockages and perform stenting or other procedures.

Holter monitor: If a doctor suspects an arrhythmia, a portable heart monitor can be worn. Called a Holter monitor, it records the heart's rhythm continuously for a 24 hour period.

Event monitor: If a doctor suspects an infrequent arrhythmia, a portable heart monitor called an event monitor can be worn. When you develop symptoms, you can push a button to record the heart's electrical rhythm.

The first heart replacement

On December 3, 1967, 53-year-old Lewis Washkansky receives the first human heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.

Washkansky, a South African grocer dying from chronic heart disease, received the transplant from Denise Darvall, a 25-year-old woman who was fatally injured in a car accident. Surgeon Christiaan Barnard, who trained at the University of Cape Town and in the United States, performed the revolutionary medical operation. The technique Barnard employed had been initially developed by a group of American researchers in the 1950s. American surgeon Norman Shumway achieved the first successful heart transplant, in a dog, at Stanford University in California in 1958.

After Washkansky's surgery, he was given drugs to suppress his immune system and keep his body from rejecting the heart. These drugs also left him susceptible to sickness, however, and 18 days later he died from double pneumonia. Despite the setback, Washkansky's new heart had functioned normally until his death.

In the 1970s, the development of better anti-rejection drugs made transplantation more viable. Dr. Barnard continued to perform heart transplant operations, and by the late 1970s many of his patients were living up to five years with their new hearts. Successful heart transplant surgery continues to be performed today, but finding appropriate donors is extremely difficult.

The heart and Love

So this thing we call a muscle and is designed to pump the very life liquid through our bodies is also associated with a feeling, and emotion, a little thing we call love.  I am a true believer that God intended this muscle to be important to us and our relationship with him.  It is also the organ that drives our relationships on earth.

Before explaining why I think this is true - let me lead you to another person who has an awesome way of stating what happened to her.  Hillary Pike has a site and the link is .  In her post she writes:

'One of the most powerful moments of my life was when I experienced the love within myself during my Kundalini Yoga teacher training at Golden Bridge. I was in a deep meditation when I had a profound heart opening that took over my entire being; I felt so much love exuding from my heart. It was as if my whole body became a vessel of divine love. In that instant, I felt the true intelligence and power of the heart. I knew in that moment that part of my soul’s purpose in this lifetime to is to help hold a space of love on this planet.'

Jesus gave us two new commandments and they both involved love, love one another and love our enemies.  I think God knew that along with the blood our heart pumps that we would need a special place for our "love" of one another and he placed it in the heart.  That is why he gave us our hearts.

As we move into the Christmas season, I for one need to do a reset on so many things and starting with my heart is a good step.  A reset that involves:

  1. Finding and eating good heart healthy foods
  2. Taking heart healthy vitamins
  3. Intensifying the love in my heart for my wife, children, friends, and even my enemies
  4. Strengthening my love for my God - give my heart what it wants 
I ask each of you to think about your heart and over the next year - let's get heart healthy and heart friendly and let's take care of this muscle that pumps our life energy and also brings us joy through love.

God I make one simple request today and that is you give us the ability to make these life altering changes for our heart.  And we thank you for the amazing body you have given us and for the scientist you have allowed to learn about this amazing body and help it when it is broken and needs repair.

We love you and adore you and look forward to this Christmas season for your coming and your birth.



  1. A simple AMEN! I have enjoyed this series in your blog.

    I am hoping Mac is getting back to his old self. They become such an important part of our lives....their hearts are for sure filled with love.


    1. Marty,

      The best simple word on the planet.

      Mac is doing great and thanks for asking. He is so human sometimes. He knows things are different and he is constantly looking for love. But he also knows we are dolling it out now so he is playing "I am a patient" very well.

      Glad you enjoyed - not sure what is next but positive God will drive something in my mind and heart.


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