UAB cardiologist tells stories with healthy lessons


Of course, I approached this book – “A Strong and Stable Pulse: Stories from a Cardiologist” – with doubts and hesitation. A book on heart disease and heart surgery didn’t come across as engaging or entertaining read.

But, as often happens, I was wrong.

UAB Distinguished Cardiologist Dr Gregory Chapman has a fluent and conversational writing style, a good sense of humor and himself is clearly a person who has read a lot and well. The book, a collection of 26 stories, is embellished with literary references from Greek mythology to “Huckleberry Finn”.

Of course, there are many polysyllabic medical terms, but they can be quickly browsed, and Chapman provides a glossary in case you want to be sure of their meaning.

In the chapter “Marathon Training,” Chapman begins by reminding the reader that Alabamians rank 46th in the country for obesity, 48th for diabetes and 49th for hypertension. (In case you’re not sure, the last place is the 50th.) A cardiac surgeon deals with here.

Exercise is obviously necessary, but should people be getting into the marathon? Dr. Chapman did it and he describes his own process. He had no family history of heart problems. He has read up on the subject and trained carefully, increasing mileage over time.

Despite this, when he finished his first marathon, he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot and four toenails turned blue and fell out. He should have worn shoes one size larger than usual.

By the way, he told the reader that the length of a marathon had always been 25 miles, the distance traveled by Pheidippides from Marathon to Athens, but King Edward VII in the 1908 Summer Olympics wanted the race ends under his balcony at Buckingham Palace.

He was the king. It was done that way. And the race became 26.2 miles.

He closed the chapter by recalling that a 15-minute daily walk “reduces all causes of death by 11%”.

In the chapter “Would Narcissus wear an Apple Watch?” He concludes, yes, “but should he?” Becoming obsessed with your own heart rate and checking it several times a day is inherently unhealthy and can create anxiety and a wave of unnecessary tests and cardiac consultations.

It is important that the medical advice you receive comes from doctors, not lawyers.

It tells the story of a patient who was doing well, taking Xarelto, a blood thinner, once a day until he saw an advertisement on television with an 800 number to join a class action lawsuit against Xarelto. He got scared, stopped taking his medication, and had a severe stroke.

My friends and I are all interested in whether alcohol is poisonous or, hopefully, might in fact be right for you. Chapman reports: “Observational studies indicate that Americans who drink one or two glasses a day live longer than those who do not…. »Red wine can be good for you. Of course, alcohol abuse can cause a host of ailments.

Cocaine, in case you were wondering, can “cause a spasm inhibiting the flow of a coronary artery” which results in tearing or clotting,

So no.

Regarding smoking – the patient in this story was undergoing a heart transplant.

Overeating won’t exactly cause a heart attack, but Chapman had a patient who ate so much at a Nashville motel ‘all you can eat’ breakfast that his distended stomach caused a repaired artery to detach, and he nearly ate. die from the bleeding. internally.

Several chapters deal specifically with the patient / doctor relationship.

Recently, doctors have been urged to spend more time with patients and to listen more.

Perhaps the patient, knowing his own body, will tell the doctor what is wrong.

Of course, the patient must give his consent for all procedures, but when the procedure is clearly necessary, the conversation must be such as to persuade him.

Yes, a patient can die from a “broken heart”. This is called Takotsubo syndrome and occurs after sudden stress or emotional shock. Chronic stress over time is also detrimental to our health.

Our hearts, Chapman reminds us, beat about 38 million times a year, but we have to remember that they pump and relax, pump and relax, and in our day to day life, so should we.

Don Noble’s latest book is Alabama Noir, a collection of original stories by Winston Groom, Ace Atkins, Carolyn Haines, Brad Watson, and eleven other Alabama authors.

“A strong and stable pulse: stories from a cardiologist”

Author: Gregory D. Chapman, MD

Publisher: University of Alabama Press

Pages: 192

Price: $ 29.95 (Fabric)

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