Andrew Breitbart, and Heart Attacks Taking Men (and Women) Early in Life…

I hope Mr. Breitbart rests in peace now. And that his 4 kids and wife will be comforted. It appears he had a heart attack or stroke, out for a walk, suddenly fell down. A stranger dialed 911. He was dead it seems when emergency help arrived. Again, may his people be comforted.

I’d just remind, even if it could cause a few people to awken sooner rather than later… that many people, esp men, but women too, are born with a weakness of one part of the body or another. But when it is the heart that is at issue, there are things to be avoided or deeply moderated if possible… otherwise too many, men especially, die in the prime of life.

One is weight. Only for this reason, though there are more than affect general health: fat packs around organs too, not just showing on the outside of the body in pillowing. (Sorry for the analogy but think of uncleaned fowl when cut open, chickens esp and the great gobbets of hard yellow fat wrapped around various internal parts. Then imagine the amount of that fat double, tripled, quadrupled, but the body cavity remaining the same size as before.) In human beings, the internal fat presses the space the internal organs need to expand into in order to be in best health possible. Ten or so pounds might not matter as much in a large person, as much as being overweight especially in chest and belly in front of the vital heart. Too many have died from just excessive weight, which has caused dangerous occlusion of breath, arteries and muscles.

Secondly, bodily exertion when there is already pressure from weight, (and sometimes mysteriously not, as in some runners and athletes) can be, note *can be* deadly, as the already squeezed heart tightens even more trying to pump and return blood to/from extremities and exertion that is sometimes ill-advisedly non-stop without adequate resting periods.

Thirdly, anger. Being angry, enraged, huffing and puffing about most everything, everyday, can be dangerous. For this reason: not even mentioning for the moment the hidden and occluded state of some persons’ arteries… anger causes the heart to clench, tightening the musculature of the body. The heart is a muscle.

Sustained anger weakens, we think at present, rather than strengthens the heart. However the person may think their rages, rants, upsets are righteous, the heart sees it differently… as being ambushed, put into sudden service without warning as though there is an emergency. The adrenals start spilling, heart rate can go sky high. But there is no life and death emergency. Just that the owner of the heart doesnt like someone or something. But the heart is forced to respond 911.

The heart appears to work best, no matter its physical condition as hale and hearty or somewhat to a lot beset…. if the body isnt fed things that turn to hard grease in the arteries, when the body is not fed/drunk in such a way so as to cause precipitous overweight esp with gut and chest fat deposits, when exercise is moderate with warm up and cool down and reasoned heart rate elevation intervals… and knowing that rages spill hormones and chemicals into the poor body that do it no good, but rather corrode its balances, thereby not leaving the heart relaxed and able to pace on its own.

I’d mention too that too much chest and belly fat also causes sleep apnea which also interferes, sometimes morbidly so, with oxygen to the heart and lungs. This extra burden each night, can cause heart distress not only at night, but overtaxed heart can falter during daytime too.

None of these are offered as blame, for we are all only human, and some like their pints to the point of excess, or smoke, or other things that can make the heart labor like a motor trying to drag too much weight for its horsepower –thus the engine begins to shudder, and eventually burn out its bearings.

I just offer these points as understanding (and there are many other points as well about heart health). In all, I would like men (and women) to have best chances to live to their majority, rather than to suddenly be cut down. I’d rather people live long, especially if they are decent-to-great parents, for their children’s sakes. To have a parent die young is such a laceration to their children.

Some decry those who overdose on drugs. I sometimes wonder if lack of self care, refusal to have mercy on one’s body and take good care of it, is just about the same, only by different means.

Again, this is not about Mr. Breitbart, just about an issue seemingly tangential to his death at such a young age, an issue that in our way too fastpaced culture, is evergreen for discussion and fact-sharing and encouragement to choose, even in baby steps, better, and best care of the body. Many pride themselves in being logical, yet are illogical about the care and feeding of their own bodies. This can be changed into cohesiveness across the board, mind AND body. The men and women of our world are worth becoming good and solid sentries in behalf of their own dependent bodies.

As I said, small steps are better than no steps at all. Remember in the jungle, the animals which make adaptations live the longest. Taking care of the body… and the heart… is an adaptation.

May you ever make new adaptations as you see fit. May you ever continue in best strength, health and endurance.

Author: DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

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6 Comments

  1. thank you kathy for the link, good choice. Andrew wraps up by saying “[Breitbart was] needing more and more validation, and on the online and real stage all the time, day and night, weekends and weekdays … well, it’s a frightening and dangerous way to live in the end.”

    I know that Mr Breitbart said he had ADHD, mentioning this many times in his books. That is an anomaly that can make a person boundryless… they feel vast emotional energy even when their bodies are worn out and worn down and need rest. I’ve seen the same in several well known corporate moguls and a few presidential candidates in the last few years.

    I had read that Mr. Breitbart spent the last two hours of his life in a bar debating with a stranger, being on his blackberry and drinking. In late evening. I wondered why not go home to peace and refuge of family. But, there are likely many factors that precluded such. For some people with mania (not something people choose to be, just an anomaly of chemistry, we think), home and rest are somewhat revulsive, as being too boring, too tame, and therefore… they’d rather go a-wandering rather than be in rest and refuge.

    Most of all I think of the acknowledgment he made to his four children in one of his books, giving them permission to disagree with him. It was touching. And I think was likely the deeper Andrew Breitbart.

    Andrew Sullivan is right about the ‘mob psychology’ as we’d call it, that can catch you on fire and drop you dead from being consumed by something that a more reasoned and quiet mind would detach from.

    I think Andrew Sullivan’s last sentence is true, Breitbart a casualty of the
    culture wars that rile so many so. I’d only disagree with AS about that Breitbart was the first. I dont think so. I think of many who left family and children to put themselves in danger’s way because they were passionate about being on one side or another, and died in the process.

    In any case, it is so sad, I think, when people fold up the tent and slip away so young…when maybe, perhaps, with a little more care and quiet, they could have stayed far longer… especially for their children.

    Ay, if only we were the benficent and visionary queens and kings of the world.

  2. Heart disease is and will continue to be the number 1 killer in the world. The numbers will only grow and asian markets become wealthier and their people become “American Style” fat. So many different things can negatively affect the heart. I’m now in my second professional career, which focused less on IT and more on heart regeneration. We are a long way from a cure for many different types of heart disease. The only protection is prevention and lifestyle…personal choices…are how we protect ourselves.

    Also, there is now a new focus on women’s heart disease. Ladies, it isn’t just the men that are in danger.

    and another note… we still do not know all of the external influences that can damage the heart. We are just now learning how stress can modify the biological morphology of the brain.

  3. thanks shannonlee, those are all important points. I study the body from another point of view, and have found fascinating-alarming all the hormones and chemicals that flood the body when we are anxious, afriad, angry, incensed, irate, etc. One of the most interesting things it appears, is that when people are passionate, as in love or in arousal that appears wrapped in care and regard, the same hormones/chemicals may be spilled but appear to be balanced by OTHER chemicals/hormones that do not spill when people are simply angry or over the top. It’s an interesting notion, esp since the hormones/chemicals spilled that balance strong feelings, seem to also be the ones that spill during meditation, in that quiet passion. I always feel we have just scratched the surface, we know so much and there is so much more. Let us continue ShannonLee

  4. And you are right about women, as I mentioned in the article. That’s a whole subject of its own, in terms of the mystery of why/how many of the symptoms of physical distress appear to be different in many women at risk than they are in men, although weight, anger, apnea, (shock is a factor I didnt mention in the article, but will in the future) pushing the body to perform beyond its conditioning… all seem factors for women too. The other factor besides alcohol and drugs, including licit medicines that can also contribute, it appears, in some, can be ordinary supplements, herbal and otherwise. It seems so that the ancients were right, that all things in moderation is best attitude, gives most best chances if there are chances to be had.

    I am so impressed that at various junctures, with adaptive care for the body, so much lost can be regained, sometimes substantially.

  5. Biochemistry is extremely interesting. The human body is quite miraculous. In many scientists opinions, it is the soluble factors that drive the development, maintenance, and destruction of cells and tissues. Many of the things you mention are indeed chemicals that change the body. As you mentioned, many of the situation that cause the body to excrete those chemicals are environmental… meaning the life you choose to lead and the people you choose to lead it with.

    Sadly, these things can downward spiral to where your life decisions lead to environments that chemically imbalance your body, which then leads to more bad decisions.

    It’s funny… it seems that the more we learn, the more we learn that there is more that we don’t know.

    and yes, meditation is good… very good for your physical and mental health.

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