What causes heart disease? How love affects heart health



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By A. Pawlowski

When Barney Clark became the first person in the world to receive a permanent artificial heart in 1982, his wife asked the doctors, "Will he still be able to love me?

For centuries, people have thought that the heart was the center of love, and this notion continues even as research shows that most activities related to affection, attraction and adoration unfold in the brain.

Yet an organ that beats faster every time a loved one approaches or hurts when a partner is gone is clearly part of the story.

Although the biological pump is not the seat of emotions, it is extremely sensitive to our emotional system, writes Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, cardiologist, in his recent book "Heart: A History". He believes that cardiac psychology – the study of how feelings affect the heart – rather than new devices or drugs, will be the next step in maintaining the health of your heart.

Doctors have known for a long time that love can offer important protection to the heart, just as its absence can have serious health consequences.

"We know that patients who develop intense grief can develop acute congestive heart failure," Jauhar told TODAY.

"People who have unhealthy or difficult relationships can be at the root of low-intensity chronic stress, which can also accelerate heart disease … so we need to focus more on the metaphorical heart and less on the biomechanical heart to continue to make the kind of progress we have made in the last 50-60 years. "

A person's ability to love can be a matter of life and death, Jauhar writes. Indeed, recent studies have shown that divorced, separated, widowed or never-married cardiac patients have a higher risk of death than their married counterparts. Married people are also less likely to develop heart disease than single people and they are more likely to survive a heart attack.

What happens to your heart when you fall in love?

According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, a dozen brain areas work together to release chemicals such as dopamine and adrenaline.

In the early stages of love – lust and attraction – adrenaline and norepinephrine accelerate the heartbeat; your pulse will activate then you only think about the object of your affection or whenever that person is close. Dopamine causes euphoria.

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