'I love you, please love me'

PHOTO: 'I love you, please love me'

How would you explain what you do to a 10-year-old?

The heart is an amazing body part that pumps blood through the entire body, much like the engine of a car.

Although the heart is pretty much automatic, people do suffer from conditions of the heart that make it work less well. Like a car, different parts may have problems over time. Therefore, I am a mechanic for the heart.

So, tell me an amazing fact.

When we are in our mothers' wombs, our heart already develops in the first few weeks.

The supply chain for blood - known as the arteries, capillaries and veins - develop at the same time to distribute the blood.

After we are born, the entire system goes independent.

The heart is estimated to beat two billion times in a lifetime, and the entire blood vessel system is estimated to be 60,000 miles (96,560km) long.

Why do skinny people get heart disease too?

Weight is only one of many risk factors for heart disease. The other common risk factors include diabetes mellitus, hypertension, high cholesterol and cigarette use.

Anything you would say on behalf of the heart?

"I love you, please love me."

So what are the factors that can cause heart failure?

We usually consider external and internal factors. Internal factors refer to genetics.

Diabetes mellitus and hypertension are common conditions that are internally mediated with external influence by food and exercise.

External factors are more defined, including food, pollution and cigarette use.

Heart failure specifically refers to a weakened heart function, which means it's unable to meet the bodily needs.

People may feel shortness of breath, lethargy or may develop a swelling of the legs.

Heart failure most commonly occurs when there's a blockage of a heart artery with weakened heart muscles.

How can you control this?

Guided exercise, and controlling salt and water intake. Specific treatments include clearing blockages and taking pills to strengthen the heart.

The pills are broadly categorised as beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, diuretics and others.

A common diuretic, with added value to reduce scarring of the heart muscles, is Inspra.

Are there perks of your job?

The best part of my job is to be involved in the health of my patients. They share their medical problems with me, and I do my best to alleviate their concerns.

What about the downsides to your job?

If we focus on the upside, there is no downside.

What is the weirdest experience in your job?

We do not consider anyone weird, only normal or less normal.

We should distinguish people as sick, very sick or call-me-tomorrow types.

juditht@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 29, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.