Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Be still my beating heart...

"Did you know that your heart stops when your sneeze?"

We all love to share these little tidbits of information that we pick up on our journey through life, but what are we really doing when we share or repeat this type of information? Are we trying to make ourselves look smart? interesting? clever? Many saints have encouraged us to be humble, even as we grow in knowledge, and remind us that silence and humility are sure paths to holiness. However, to put to rest the common belief - No, your heart does not stop beating when you sneeze. Your heart, as I mentioned in class, is controlled in part by a bundle of nerves that we call a "pacemaker" because it sets the pace of your heart, causing the rhythmic contraction and relaxing of the heart chambers. This is completely unrlated to the respiratory response to nasal irritation known as a sneeze. This would be like having the toilet flush in your house every time you turned on the garbage disposal.

We sometimes feel a change in pressure in our chest from quickly inhaling then forcefully exhaling, but in no way does our heart "stop". Don't believe me? Check out the links below to the Penn State University "Medical Myths" page or the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences "myth" page.

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