Dr. Ray Bahr is more than just the Founder of ACC Accreditation Services. His Early Heart Attack Care program is a benchmark of community outreach and education for heart disease.
(This article was originally published in 2012 and has been updated to reflect the 2018 EHAC Oath Form)
It is associated with St. Valentine's Day and love thoughts fill the air. The heart is considered the center of our emotions and words to express this are numerous... heartfelt, heart warming, heart strong, heart to heart, heartbreaking.
However, this month, I want to focus my "burning heart" on the care of your heart. In reality, February should be the time where we stop and think about what we have within our chest in order to understand the value and keep it in good shape.
Let me share some important details with you...
The heart is a major organ whose job is to never turn off in supplying blood and nutrients throughout the body. In a 70 year span, it will beat over 2 billion times and pump over 250 million quarts of blood. In most cases, the demands of the heart vary, but your heart will adjust without you really noticing the change. The heart has tremendous reserve capacity that can easily increase cardiac output 10-fold when needed. And if it needs to be replaced, it will cost over a million dollars to get a heart transplant.
I think it is vital that you stay in touch with your heart. If you were to see the heart in action, you would come away thinking that the heart struggles with every beat to get the blood out. This is because the heart accepts and pumps blood out at the same time. To help it along, the heart is supplied with four heart valves that control the blood. This is essential because the blood needs to go through the lungs first to pick up oxygen and to get rid of CO2 waste before the heart can pump the oxygenated blood throughout the entire body system. In 1600, William Harvey commented on this motion of the heart by saying "I almost believed that the motion of the heart was to be understood by God alone."
This heart month, take a few minutes at bedtime to observe the beating of your heart. Lay your head on the pillow and try positioning your ear to the pillow to actually hear the beating of your heart. See if you can make out the heart sounds which represent the heart valves in action. Experience the power of the heartbeat by feeling the pulse alongside your windpipe in the neck. Connecting with your heart becomes a powerful way to appreciate what the heart means to you
Learn to know when your heart is in trouble. If your car motor is acting up and you hear a new noise in it you go quickly to the shop to get it checked out. This should be true of your heart as well. When you begin to experience new central chest discomfort symptoms that are coming and going (stuttering), even though these symptoms are mild, get the symptoms checked out so that you don’t have to be rolled on a stretcher into the emergency room with a heart that has stopped beating. In your hospital, work to add the EHAC Program to the existing CPR and ACLS Programs.
Best of Luck in Saving a Life,
Raymond D.Bahr MD