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Monday, September 18, 2006

Broken Hearts...




What becomes of the broken hearted?


Jimmy Ruffin sang these words in the 1960's! And many many people have asked the same question since. The beginning of relationships can make you feel great. But the end can leave you with emotional and mental wounds - a broken heart! Clearly your heart is not physically broken! It is just a saying. So, why do we use this expression?


Ancient Greek writers spoke of the heart as being the centre of emotion, thought and reason. This may have been because of the heart’s position in the body. But for whatever the reason, the idea of the heart being the centre of emotion continued. However, the heart does not have this image in all cultures. In Burma, people connect emotions to the liver. The expression "broken liver" has the same meaning as ‘broken heart.’ One Burmese woman explains:"Emotions, especially love, are connected to the liver. It is very common to say, “I love you from my liver..." (And) the heart shape is called the liver shape in Burmese."


Whatever words you use, the way you feel is the same. A "broken liver", a "broken heart" - it is still "broken"! But how serious is it? Can a "broken heart" really affect the heart organ?


 


Johns Hopkins Medical Centre is in Baltimore in the United States. Researchers here are examining the effect of emotional pain on the heart. The technical name for a "broken heart" is "stress cardiomyopathy" or "broken heart syndrome." Hopkins scientists said that sudden emotional pain can result in a weakness in the heart. Emotional pain can release the wrong chemical hormones into the blood. These hormones can temporarily affect the heart. This causes the body to act as if it is having a heart attack. A person can experience chest pains and shortness of breath. But the person is not really having a heart attack. The real problem is something very different.


In a real heart attack, patients show damage to the heart. They get heart blockages. And people can take many months to recover from a heart attack. The patients with "broken heart syndrome" show no signs of heart blockages or damage. And their recovery time is very fast - around two weeks. So physical heart problems then are very different from emotional effects on the heart. But are there any cures?


 


Well, let us start with physical heart problems - such as heart disease, or heart attack. There are drugs and treatments. And, if these fail, there is the heart transplant. But modern improvements in science mean that physical heart damage may become easier to fix!! Imagine if doctors did not have to perform transplants. They did not have to give people a different heart. Imagine if they found a way to "fix" a patient’s own heart!


Well, one group of specialist scientists are working on just that! The scientists are at Colombia University in New York. They are making pieces of living heart material to fix broken hearts. These are called ‘cardiac patches.’ And they work like a normal patch. They cover the broken part of the heart. These are different from the traditional man-made cardiac patches for holes in the heart. These new patches will be able to do much more than treat small areas of the heart. Scientists grow the heart material in their laboratory. It is real living tissue. It beats like a heart. And it only takes a few days to grow. The aim is to use it on damaged or diseased hearts.


Gordan Vunjak-Novakovic is one of the scientists at Colombia University. She said that scientists have created a special environment, copying the heart’s natural environment. This is inside a container, or chamber. Here, the heart tissue grows. Everything has to be just right for the heart cells to grow. Heart cells need to grow at a very high density. They also need plenty of oxygen. And the cells need electrical input. Small electrical signals keep the hearts beating.


 


So far, the results have been successful. Scientists hope that one-day "heart patches" may be just a normal hospital process. Doctors may be able to grow the patches from the heart patient. Or, they may be able to give patches that were made earlier. However there is still a long way to go. Animal trials are only just starting. It will take ten years or more before human trials begin. But if the "heart patch" works, doctors could save millions of lives every year. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic said, "We joke that this is really a “patch for a broken heart.”’


As we know, a "broken heart" means something very different. So is there any cure for a broken heart? Is there a cure for the emotional and mental pain? How about a box of sweet chocolates and a film? Or, playing your most-liked piece of happy music?


 


Well, you may laugh, but sometimes this can really help! Do you remember Gloria Gaynor’s song "I will survive"? It is translated into over twenty languages! This includes Japanese and Hindi! And, it has been recorded over two hundred times! Gloria Gaynor said that people write to her - saying thank you! They thank her for singing words that can help heal their broken hearts! She said, "I think it is just great! When I recorded this song I was thinking of anyone who had a problem. "I will survive" - those three words are so powerful. They are so encouraging and empowering. Everyone takes these words and makes the song their own. And this is what keeps them going!"


I Will Survive... Did you think I would lay down and die?

Oh no, not I! I will survive!

And as long as I know how to love

I know I can stay alive ...


Gloria Gaynor can sing the words with meaning. She has come through some difficult times in life herself. But she has survived - and Gloria gives God the credit for this. Does she see the song as spiritual? She said, "I very much see it that way. Especially since I changed some of the song words." Originally it said, "It took all the strength I had not to fall apart." I looked at my life and how I survived. And I changed the words to, "Only the Lord could give me strength not to fall apart."


Some people liked this change in the words. And others did not. But Gloria does not seem to mind. She speaks openly and honestly about her Christian faith. Smiling, she says, "My personal relationship with Christ turned my whole life around."


Gloria hopes that other people will find strength in her words. For Gloria, surviving is part of life. Broken hearts and people can be healed. We finish with her famous song, "I will survive".


I Will Survive at first I was afraid, I was petrified

Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side.

But then I spent so many nights

Thinking how you did me wrong,

I grew strong and I learned how to carry on...


I Will Survive if I had known for just one second

you'd be back to bother me

Go on now go, walk out the door, just turn around now

Because you're not welcome anymore

Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye?

Did you think I'd crumble?

Did you think I'd lay down and die?

Oh no, not I! I will survive!

And as long as I know how to love

I know I will stay alive

I've got all my life to live

I've got all my love to give

And I'll survive

I will survive

Hey hey!

Survive

I will survive

Survive

Only the Lord could give me strength not to fall apart ...