The heart is, by nature, an accelerated organ, its beats are constant and the rhythm should be frequent. It takes on an extra full time job, every 24 hours. The heart, through its doors, that is, ventricles, auricles, arteries, valves and veins, allows blood to pump. Called muscle, it is much more than that. It is one of the life lords of the human body. It is what allows us to live, feel happiness, feel pain or simply feel. It beats faster when stimulated by the eyes, it relaxes during sleep.
But what about when the heart stops? – Death from cardiac arrest is declared. Just like that, in a dry and unglamorous way. Or, as time goes by, it shows signs of tiredness, just like its owner.
The heart is a machine, but its stopping, sooner or later, is inevitable. With the support of cardiologists, an attempt is made to prolong its end. However, the quality of its existence depends almost exclusively on its owner. Therefore, it is essential to take care of your heart.
In Portugal, about 35,000 people die annually from cardiovascular diseases, according to data from the National Health Service. Every year, during the month of May, heart professionals unite in one voice with the aim of raising awareness among all layers of the population to the need to take good care of this gentleman. Despite this evangelization, cardiovascular diseases continue to be the main cause of death and suffering that could be avoided simply by choosing healthier eating habits, encouraged with the benefit of physical activity.
There is no shortage of information on prevention. What is missing is the awareness that even if the eyes cannot see it, it feels and resents it.
In issue 112, we focused on the heart and on all the initiatives carried out during the month of May. We promoted active breaks, celebrated the 5th anniversary of the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Centre, organized debates and presented solutions for a healthy heart. We talked about the impact of COVID-19 on Heart Health and celebrated the European accreditation of the CHULN/FMUL/CRECUL cardiovascular rehabilitation programme.
In this month dedicated to the heart, we talked with Professor Fausto J. Pinto, Director of the Heart and Vessels Department at CHULN and Director of the FMUL, on the organization of the department and his career as head of this team. It was with apprehension that he informed us how the pandemic still indirectly affected the Department of Cardiology and the various adaptations that they quickly had to put into practice.
It was with all our heart that we met Afonso Cruz, who, at the age of 30, was hospitalized for about 2 weeks in intensive care, connected to an ECMO. He was on the brink of death, but was saved by his will and that of so many doctors who took care of him every hour. The enthusiastic report is his own.
We interviewed Nuno Gaibino, an internist and intensive care physician, who welcomed several FMUL students, in a volunteer project with Covid patients. He is active as an academic and has a great sense of mission towards the others.
With a full heart, we met our years 4 and 6 students who volunteered at the height of the pandemic to work in the intensive care unit. There were 130 volunteers who, even at the risk of becoming infected, did not lower their arms. We met them, as well as their great mentor and head of Intensive Care Medicine, Professor Susana Fernandes.
We also invite you to visit the best of May, the backstage of the Cultural Soirée, the Social Builders Academy, and we also challenge you to dream, with your heart, with the future perspective of the crazy 20s of the 21st century.