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View Full Version : Why can't I make my heart stop?


Dignan
03-20-2001, 10:35 PM
No smart ass comments about shooting or shocking myself, or anything like that.

I was thinking, why is it that I can hold my breath, keep from blinking, or swallowing, but I can't keep my heart from beating for just a little while? What's the deal with that?

And about holding my breath, why can't I hold it until I pass out? I hold it to see how long I can go, but eventually I take a breath.

I'm just wondering here. I know that there is some kind of name for the actions that you don't really pay attention to like blinking and breathing, but I can control those two and not my heart. I'm just wonderin'.

Markxxx
03-20-2001, 10:58 PM
I believe the phrase you want is Autotonic Response. This site


http://www.med.miami.edu/OPO/understa.htm

has some interesting facts though it's gear toward brain death issues.


"I have always understood that when an individual dies, the heart stops beating. If my loved one is brain dead, why does the heart continue to beat?"

"The heart has its own pacemaker independent of the brain. As long as it has oxygen, it continues to beat. The heart could actually be removed from the body, placed in a saline solution, given oxygen, and still continue to beat. Therefore, the brain can be dead and the heart continue to beat."


But it is interesting to note that while you can't stop your heart you can control it. Think about it. Think angry thoughts. You heart goes up. Run. Your heartbeat goes up.

Many eastern religious people practice yoga and can have shown they can actually slow and raise their heartbeat at will.

BobT
03-20-2001, 11:19 PM
Bugs me too. I've tried to stop my digestion and absorption of food into my body but I can't do that either. I've also tried to shut down my liver and kidneys, but I've come up short in that area also.

There's no good reason for needing to stop your heart. There are times when you need to regulate your breathing. Unless your an Olympic-level shooter, stopping your heart is probably not necessary.

Ross
03-20-2001, 11:32 PM
Dude, the answer's in the question. Design-wise, you are physically incapable of stopping your heart precisely because if you could, you would. You'd get drunk or try it for a laugh or something, and that'd be that. Not just for you, for the entire human race.

God invented evolution. He knew we were dumb.

Junchbailey
03-21-2001, 12:32 AM
I learned in Psychology last semester about something called biofeedback training. It's the ability to control otherwise unconscience processes. Our teacher talked about monks who could raise or lower their body temperature by 5 degrees or so either way, and who could also slow down their heartbeat. This is how some people can stay submerged underwater for long periods of time.

I don't know if you could actually stop your heart with this but it may be possible.

Arjuna34
03-21-2001, 08:19 AM
Stopping your heart's the easy part - getting it started again's the trick! ;)

Arjuna34

Duck Duck Goose
03-21-2001, 08:43 AM
Yes, you can use biofeedback to control your heart rate somewhat. These are a couple of hits that came up under a Google search for "biofeedback control heart rate".

http://www.thoughttechnology.com/nolan.htm

http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0105.htm

Basically, you use certain kinds of exercise combined with a heart rate monitor to get your heart beating up to a certain rate, and then you focus on keeping it there. It's mainly a tool for heart patients, to help them keep their heart rates below stressful levels.

However, concerning "stopping your heart", think about it for a minute. Your brain controls your body, right? And your brain requires a huge percentage of the blood flow in your body in order to function properly, right? And your heart is responsible for seeing that that huge volume of blood flow is getting delivered right on schedule, right? So what happens if you use your brain to stop your heart? You've just shut down the control room that's responsible for starting it up again.

http://www.packardchildrenshospital.org/health/safety/airhub.htm
Lack of oxygen to the brain for more than four minutes may result in brain damage or death.
http://mensclubguide.com/article.asp?article_id=1265

A common cause of blackouts and dizziness is a lack of oxygen/blood supply to the brain which can occur during sex. Another is blockage of the main arteries leading to the brain. If the supply becomes extremely limited, the brain tends to shutdown resulting in loss of vision, balance and muscle strength and co-ordination. Consequently, a person will either collapse or become unresponsive for anything from a few seconds to one or two minutes. Unconsciousness develops from a severe lack of oxygen to the brain or from damage to primary areas of the brainstem that control functions such as breathing, hearing and vision when these tissues have been starved of oxygen for long periods of time, usually more than two to three minutes. The degree of damage is usually dependant on the length of time the brain has been without oxygen.
Fortunately, your brain has a backup system, because God knew we were dumb. It's called the autonomic nervous system. (http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/auto.html) As soon as you stopped your heart and cut off the blood flow to your brain, you'd pass out and the backup system would swing into action, restarting your heart and restoring blood flow to your brain.

Knighted Vorpal Sword
03-21-2001, 08:44 AM
Originally posted by Junchbailey
I learned in Psychology last semester about something called biofeedback training. It's the ability to control otherwise unconscience processes. Our teacher talked about monks who could raise or lower their body temperature by 5 degrees or so either way, and who could also slow down their heartbeat. This is how some people can stay submerged underwater for long periods of time.

I learned biofeedback as a young teenager to help control my blood pressure. Not only did I learn to control my heart rate, but I could tell my blood pressure +/- 3 points. If you really want to stop your heart,

1. Eat at McDonalds 5 times a day 7 days a week.
2. Get no exercise at all
3. Hi, Opal!

I've gone the heart attack route - it's not fun.