In Dr Nikki Stamp of­fers a heart sur­geon’s in­sight.

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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.

All ti­tles are avail­able through mur­dochbooks.com.au

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