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Be still my beating heart: science for your Valentine

Health & Medical

A BLOODY history involving both Roman and Christian rituals formed the tradition of leaving romantic notes for your beloved on Valentine’s Day. While the brain and hormones are mainly responsible for your feelings of romance and love, it’s your heart that is sent a flutter when that special person walks in the room.

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Here’s Deputy Director and SAHMRI Heart Foundation Heart Health theme leader Professor Steve Nicholls on matters close to his heart this February.

What sort of a job does the heart actually do?litreslitres

Why do we link love with the heart and that fluttering feeling?fibres

Can you literally ‘break your heart?’minimise

When does the human heart form?fertilisation

Is the heart always in exactly the same place?dextrocardia

When did the first heart transplant take place?1960s1970s

What is it that allows you to understand the heart so well?

Here at SAHMRI we’re going to open a human imaging pod later this year on campus. This will extend our imaging capacity for clinical work, and we’ll be able to do a lot more high-end research projects and trials here. This will complement the new hospital being built next door and the cyclotron that we use to create new tracing materials.

What’s hot in heart research right now?

There is also a huge amount of excitement about developing devices and interventions for heart rhythm problems and developing new drugs to control cholesterol. Also, heart failure is still a major focus. Heart failure is already the largest consumer of public health expense in the country, and in an aging population it’s going to become more and more common.

Ironically, one of the most exciting areas of development is actually back in the context of weight loss and health. Here at SAHMRI we’ve just done some research which shows that if you just target those major lifestyle risk factors really well – such as losing weight – this actually has a huge benefit in terms of managing cardiac arrhythmia, even an existing condition.

What sort of heart research do you do at SAHMRI?

SAHMRI: Fact File

SAHRMI is running a Valentine’s Day research funding program. For more information, see

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story. Copied to Clipboard

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