Beliefs About The Heart That Should Be Corrected
( Originally Published 1921 )
There is a current belief that if the heart for any reason is stopt the person is apt to die unless something is done to make the heart beat again. As a matter of fact, the heart beat be-comes more and more hard to prevent the longer the heart has been arrested, and when the circulation of the blood ceases in the body, the stimulants of the heart beat immediately commence to arrive from various parts of the body, asking for a .resumption of its work. So nature itself has provided for the resumption of the heart beat, provided the heart itself is able to recover its capacity to beat. It is a strange thing that in each beat of the heart it completely exhausts its capacity to beat. When the beat has taken place, no kind of stimulant can make it beat again until an appreciable time has passed, during which it recovers its power to beat. Heart action is resumed as soon as the heart recovers its power to beat. That is to say, the tendency to beat at slow or quick rate is always present except for an infinitesimal period after a heart beat; for this depends upon so-called stimulus production, which (as has been stated) is a phenomenon of the chemistry of the heart. This reaction of the chemistry of the heart does not furnish the power, but it unfailingly applies the spark.
For these reasons, we should not concern ourselves too much about the heart that beats too slowly. It means that it has ample time between the beats to gather strength, and that if the stimulus production is slow it is nevertheless sure. When the heart, however, is beating very often, and the recovery period is cut into, there is real danger of exhaustion. Therefore do not worry about the danger of the heart stopping suddenly and not commencing to beat again, and do not worry about a slow pulse.