Donating your body to science can improve heart health for future generations

Donating your body to science can improve heart health for future generations

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, with cardiovascular disease claiming a life roughly every 30 seconds. 

The general term ‘heart disease’ is comprised of various cardiovascular afflictions which develop because of genetics, lifestyle choices, or a combination of different factors and predispositions. Common, more specific diagnoses of heart disease can include:

  • Aortic Stenosis: a restriction of the pulmonary valve usually caused by calcium build up that causes inadequate transfer of blood from the left ventricle into the aorta.
  • Coronary Artery Disease: the development of plaque within the arteries of the heart, which causes a narrowing of the arteries and restricts blood supply.
  • Arrhythmia: an irregular heartbeat, slow, fast, or otherwise irregular.
  • Cardiomyopathy: a stretching of the heart muscle causing the heart to become weak, resulting in improper blood flow.
  • Heart Failure: the heart’s inability to function in the manner and capacity it should, usually the consequence of other cardiovascular related issues such as high blood pressure, and those mentioned above. 

Heart disease can present itself through the onset of various symptoms, including:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain localized to the chest, neck, jaw, throat, and back
  • Feelings of tightness, pressure, or discomfort in the chest
  • Fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting
  • Weakness, numbness or pain in the arms and legs, often accompanied by swelling
  • Abnormal, fluttering, slow, or racing heartbeat

Consulting with your physician in the event any of the above symptoms manifest themselves may be a prudent action, as these symptoms can not only have the effect of limiting and restricting one’s activities but can also potentially be a warning sign of something life threatening. 

With prevention of heart disease in mind, developing good eating habits and undertaking various heart healthy activities can have the effect of increasing overall heart health. Harvard Medical School recommends adopting several small changes to diet and activity to maintain and improve cardiovascular health and fitness. 

Heart disease is prevalent, but Science Care donors are contributing to medical advancements intended to improve heart health

Members of our Donor Community have provided cardiovascular researchers the means necessary to develop new, more effective devices, procedures, and techniques intended to restore heart health and functionality which, in turn, increase patient vitality and longevity. Recent advancements toward improved heart health, care, and treatment include the ongoing development of:

  • State-of-the-art imaging devices and diagnostic testing to identify potential heart issues closer to the onset of disease allowing for more personalized, timely treatment and prevention options
  • More effective techniques utilized to repair tricuspid valve deficiency within the heart
  • Longer lasting, more effective stenting devices which increase and restore proper blood circulation by preventing further narrowing of arteries following placement
  • Prostheses placed into the mitral valve, aortic arch, and left atrial appendage to improve heart function.

Beyond research and development, Science Care Donors play an integral part in ensuring cardiovascular specialists and surgeons gain the practical experience, knowledge, and competency necessary to save lives and improve patient quality of life.

Members of our Donor Community consistently afford medical professionals the opportunity to engage in hands-on training intended to:

  • Increase basic and complex knowledge of the cardiovascular system
  • Engage in practical cardiovascular surgical skills training
  • Develop competency in the performance of new, more efficient, and less invasive surgical techniques and procedures
  • Provide familiarity and confidence specific to the implantation of various medical devices intended to restore patient heart functionality.

The heart is an organ which is vital to our individual survival and existence. As such, it is so collectively revered within our society that we associate this organ with love, selflessness, kindness, and generosity — intangible qualities and characteristics without which we would be unable to survive or exist.

Through the act of body donation to science — an act which has the effect of advancing medical science and improving quality of life for generations to come — each member of our Donor Community exemplifies exactly what it means to have a "big heart." Our most sincere thanks, appreciation, and admiration is extended to to all members of our Donor Community and their loved ones.

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