Sitting still inside a quiet room, in complete silence, place your hands over your ears. Focus on your breathing. Inhale, exhale, and repeat. Soon enough you will begin to feel the rhythmic beating of one of the most active muscles, undoubtedly the most critical, in the human body. Grab a hold of a stethoscope and you’ll be able to hear this muscle’s “song” more clearly: “lub-dub—lub-dub—lub-dub.” It’s a sound that we often take for granted—occurring inside our chests over 100,000 times per day. This rhythmic pulsation beneath the sinewy makings of the thoracic cavity supplies our mass of tissues, organs, and systems with the sanguine elixir that is essential for our daily animation.
It feels only natural to write poetically about a biological process that keeps us functioning on a daily basis while it simultaneously beats the figurative drum toward its demise—which, too often and with little warning, can descend upon us, catastrophically ending our existence.
Taken as a whole, the cardiovascular system is a marvel of biological engineering, yet imperfections in the genetic code can often lie in wait for just the right set of variables—for example, genetic polymorphism + onset of disease + drug cocktail—to initiate a cascade of physiological events leading to clinical emergencies.
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