National Geographic : 1942 Oct
Living a good life with a bad heart THE HEART IS A MUSCLE about the size of the clenched fist. It is perhaps the hardest-work ing muscle in the body, for it pumps some five hundred gallons of blood every day, and it never sleeps, never gets a complete rest. Virtually all of us are born with hearts fully capable of doing this enormous amount of work. All too frequently, however, the heart may later suffer some form of damage. In childhood and in early adult life the damage may be caused by disease-usually acute rheumatic fever. After 40 or 45, the changes which come with age may affect the heart. Whatever the cause, the damage interferes with the normal functioning of the heart, and the condition is labeled "heart dis ease." Fortunately-and contrary to widespread be lief-most heart disease does not mean sudden death or even serious interference with normal activity. The best proof of this is the fact that there are in this country at least two million people who have some form of heart trouble. Many of them are living useful, virtually normal lives, because they know what their hearts can do and have adjusted their lives accordingly. If the doctor says you have heart disease, you can follow no wiser course than to seek his regu lar guidance. Through periodic visits he can reg ulate so wisely the life you lead that many years may be added to your life. The doctor may not give medicine, but regular check-ups will enable him to correct faulty habits of living and to ob- serve promptly any changes in the condition. The family can usually do much to help carry out the doctor's instructions. A peaceful home atmosphere, regular hours of rest, and proper diet may be important parts of the care re quired. Family watchfulness is especially neces sary when a child has heart disease. To safeguard our hearts, it is important for those of us who are past 40 to avoid sudden, unusual exertions that might cause overstrain. Today, many of us are engaged in activities to which our bodies are not conditioned. The wise course is to undertake them gradually, much as an athlete goes into training. Annual medical check-ups are particularly advisable for everyone past 40. Metropolitan will send you a free pamphlet, 102-N, "Protecting Your Heart," which contains interesting and valuable information about the various forms of heart disease. COPYRIGHT 1942 Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (A MUTUAL COMPANY) Frederick H. Ecker, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD Leroy A. Lincoln, PRESIDENT 1 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK, N. Y.