Have you ever met someone special and felt your heart beat so fast you thought it would explode? Or perhaps, ever wondered if it is actually possible for someone to literally die of a broken heart?
Join us as we learn the science behind these myths from cardiologist Dr. Julian Tan.
1. When someone is in love, one expression is to say ‘the heart is ablaze with passion’. Can the heart really feel hot/heat?
Contrary to popular beliefs, no actual heat is emanated from the heart. However, when one is passionate, driven and motivated, the heart may beat more rapidly than usual, hence giving off heat-like impressions.
2. When a person sees someone they like and feel their heart skip a beat. Is this scientifically possible and how?
It is common to experience the feeling of skipped or missed heartbeats. These are the result of ectopic or ‘extra’ heartbeats that occur out of the regular rhythm. Also known as premature atrial complexes (PAC) and premature ventricular complexes (PVC), these ectopic heartbeats are benign and do not pose any danger or threats to the human body. When a person gets emotionally excited (like when infatuation sets in), ‘stress hormones’ in the body increases, resulting in frequent PAC/PVC.
3. How about when your heart feels like it is fluttering? Why does that happen?
The ‘fluttering’ sensation you feel may be the result of the occurrence of atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. This condition happens when the natural pacemaker of the heart is taken over by multiple ectopic signals, causing the heart to beat irregularly and quickly without any pattern.
Some common causes for atrial fibrillation include isachemia, hypertension and hyperthyroidism.
The heart will not be physically damaged but it could be dangerous when stress-induced heart conditions happen. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as a ‘broken heart syndrome’, shares the same symptoms as a heart attack. It is a weakening of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber and usually takes place when there is severe emotional or physical stress such as the loss of a loved one.
Similar to heartaches, the heart will not be physically damaged but it is possible for one to die due to stress-induced cardiomyopathy, where it gets harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body, causing complications that may result in death.
Maintaining a healthy, pumping heart
The heart is a muscle that is intimately connected to our neurological system so our mood and stress levels can affect our heart significantly. To maintain a healthy pumping heart, engage in aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, running and most importantly, make sure you get enough sleep each day with a balanced diet.
If you experience any irregular heart activities listed above, contact a physician immediately.