In Dr Nikki Stamp offers a heart surgeon’s insight.
HOW DID YOUR LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE HEART BEGIN?
As a kid, I was a voracious reader of science books. When I was eight years old I remember writing, ‘I want to be a heart surgeon and finish the work of Dr Victor Chang.’ At the time, [the famous surgeon] was working on a reliable mechanical heart. Whenever I saw him on the news, I was awe-struck.
SO, COULD YOU DIE OF A BROKEN HEART?
That’s one of the most common questions I get asked once people know what I do for a living. It seems like an old wives’ tale, not necessarily a real phenomenon. Heartbreak can cause us to avoid healthy behaviours. [In contrast], love and other positive emotional states set off positive nerve signals and hormones that relax blood vessels and take pressure off the heart.
YOU HOLD PEOPLE’S HEARTS IN YOUR HAND. THAT’S SOME PRESSURE RIGHT THERE!
To be frank, it’s a huge responsibility to bear. Doctors can be notoriously bad at looking after themselves, but I think that’s changing now. It has to! Acknowledging that I do get tired, frustrated or hungry just like everyone else means I can do my job to the best of my ability.
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