Beat Twice For Healthy

Patrick Swayze was bobbing along doing all right with his acting ambitions until Dirty Dancing, that role apparently was his “breakthrough” role. But the only thing that sticks in my mind about his performance in the film was when he described the beating heart.

‘Guh gung, guh gung’ (spelling?)

An who am I to disagree with Patrick Swayze when it comes to what the heart sounds like, I’m sure he was spot on with what his heart sounds like. But he also tapped two fingers on his chest in time with the “beat”. And that’s where I’ve got the problem, because he really rather mislead some people as to how the heart works. It would have been more accurate to tap one finger then the other.

To be fair to the fella, he was probably mislead by countless cartoons in which you see a beating heart.
I certainly get my most factual information from cartoons.  Though I’ve seen quite a few rabbits in my time, but I’ve never seen one do this…
So it’s either a myth or a misunderstanding of the human body (or any body with a heart for that matter) that the two beating sounds are the expansion and contraction of the heart.

Maybe we should be getting our information from a more reliable source… like a real heart for instance.

Oh damn, this hasn’t helped much. Because you see, what actually makes the beating sound is the valves opening and closing. So here’s a run down of what really goes on in your rib cage… but obviously this is a Hansen lesson sooo it’ll be most of the information you could want in a thrown together sort of way.

You should (if your biology teachers haven’t failed you) know the heart is a muscle. And muscle means good at conducting electricity. Which sounds pretty bad but that’s just how muscles work and if they didn’t conduct electricity defibrillators would be no damn use.

There’s a little ‘natural pacemaker’ on the top right of your heart that pulses electricity through your heart, the electricity makes your muscles contract. If the whole thing contracted at once there’d still be two valve claps but they’d be simultaneous so you’d probably only hear one sound. Fortunately for our health and the… what’s the word for audio aesthetics?… anyway that, there’s a delay between the top and bottom chambers of your heart. So the top muscles contract then the bottom muscles contract.

This spaces out the sound between the valves opening and closing. And gives you the comforting sound of a heartbeat. Honestly we’re all worried when we can’t find it, even though if it wasn’t there we would not be doing much of anything.

On average your heart beats 50-100 times a minute (that actually sounds a little vague). I can narrow it down for you by telling you that a woman’s heart beats on average 8 times more a minute than a man’s. But you end up with about 100,000 beats a day (or so I’m told). And some clever sausage with a better head for figures than me has determined that every minute your heart pumps about 1.5 gallons of blood… although you don’t have that much in you body so thank goodness for recycling.

Anyway, why am I telling you all this? No reason really… except the more educated you are the slimmer your chance of heart disease. And why not start educating with the heart. If you already know all this stuff, you are off to a flying start. Heart disease is going to have a hard time catching you. Which is good because heart disease is the number one killer world wide.

No need to fear sharks, snakes, spiders, flying squirrels, serial killers, terrorists or the American police force when heart disease is still on the loose.

S. Hansen

P.S. Poor mental health also contributes to heart disease so we really need to up our game there…



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