Mind Your Body


Does The Heart Attack?

Does The Victim Strike The Heart?

Who Fired The First Shot?



Myocardial Infarction (MI) (Heart Attack)

Myo refers to muscle and cardial to heart and infarction to death of tissue. The word infarction comes from a Latin verb meaning ‘to stuff’. The heart is a powerful, tireless muscle that gets its own blood supply via the coronary arteries. There are many types of heart conditions but this article only is addressing typical coronary disease. 

Poor blood flow due to partial coronary obstruction can cause heart pain, known as angina pectoris (from Latin for strangling and chest), especially during emotional stress or exercise. If the blood flow is completely blocked, a portion of the heart muscle dies (infarcts) and is labeled a heart a heart attack.

Over decades, artery walls throughout the body develop cholesterol plaques. The vessels’ inner linings can rupture and expose the plaque contents to the blood stream. This causes a blood clot to form at that spot and block the blood flow through that vessel.

The amount of plaque is called plaque burden. HIgher amounts have many causes including factors we don’t have control over such as genetics, and, as most people are aware, factors we do have control over such as choosing certain foods, amount of exercise, and smoking. 



Why do people get coronary heart disease? Is it genetic? Is it the food we eat? Lack of exercise? Yes, it is these factors. However another very important cause comes from our minds. This post addresses issues related to the mind’s influence on the body. The posting for hyperthyroidism is postponed until the next blog entry. This summarizes an interview with Fred Singer. He is an author, teacher, and historian. He was born and raised in the Bronx in New York City. He attended Long Island University His graduate work was at CCNY-City College of New York. He has written books and has been a high school and university teacher in Germany and Japan and in Denver, Colorado.

He became interested in the influence of the mind on the body when one of his psychology students brought him an article 30 years ago describing research that proved a connection between certain personality types and the tendency to get cancer. He “couldn’t fathom it” at first. He began a journey studying research about this subject. He found there is a link with personality and disease states of heart disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. He also found there is a disease resistant personality.

He has taught many subjects and is particularly interested in “the beginnings of things” in his teaching of history. These include but are not confined to ancient history and colonial America. He taught “everything” through his long and successful career. He was blessed with a healthy childhood. He cites a researcher who stated that virtually every case of Rheumatoid Arthritis has a psychological component. Dr. George Solomon wrote, “The arthritic process is not merely frequently, but always the expression of a personality conflict.” “Personal problems affect the immune system”. He has been exercising almost daily for 40 years. He goes to the gym and lifts weights. He has ridden bikes and jogged in the past. He likes the gym because he can get a good workout rain or shine. “Another benefit of exercise in the fitness center is socialization, a key, proven factor in health and longevity.”

In 1990 there was “just no evidence” that spirituality and religion influenced health. When he wrote a book at that time, called  “CHANGE YOUR MIND, SAVE YOUR LIFE: How your mind affects your health and what you can do about it”, he did not have a chapter on these subjects. He has since become aware of new information showing there is a beneficial connection. He notes also that a sense of purpose, a sense of meaning, is important to one’s health. He notes that in his own life he is “maybe a poster boy” for having a sense of purpose. He’s now working on his 10th book. He feels he has both a need to prove himself and he has a genuine interest in the subjects he researches and writes about.

With all the information about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle, he wonders if people really absorb this information. He notes that less educated people tend to have unhealthier lifestyles. He believes it’s due to being less knowledgeable about what’s the right way to live. Also, many lifestyle choices are “just habits”, like smoking in his father’s generation. If friends make these choices, it’s much more difficult for you not to. Exercising causes people to live longer and healthier. “The gym costs too much…..it takes too much time….I’ll get to it someday… ”  It’s also hard to convince young people, he notes.

“If you want to find groups that are long lived, many religious groups have that”. Such as the 7th Day Adventists. Both men and women of that faith live into their late 80s. It’s not a genetic issue. It’s due to their healthy lifestyles. Nuns, Mormons, and others live much longer and healthier than other groups. Many religious people are good role models of health for fellow believers and give a lot of social support. “You have the notion that God loves you. You have social support”.

The Lester Breslow study, completed in the mid-1970s, followed 7000 people for 35 years. It discovered 7 healthy behaviors that make a significant difference.

1. Don’t smoke

2. Drink small amount or no alcohol

3. Sleep 7-8 hours a night

4. Exercise 30 minutes a day, several days a week.

5. Forget the scales. Eat moderately

6. Eat regularly whether that’s two, three, or five meals a day. Whatever you do normally, keep it up because it’s the regularity of life and moderation in eating, sleeping and exercising that makes all the difference.

7. Eat breakfast every day. (Confirmation of the health benefits of eating breakfast comes from a 2013 study that found that men who skip breakfast have a 27% higher incidence of heart attacks.)

One finding of the Breslow study was that a 60 year old who follows all 7 recommended behaviors will be as healthy as a 30 year old who follows fewer than 3 of them.


Studying evidence is important. Anecdotal information is not necessarily applicable to a given person. “Look at the source…..evidence….evidence”. Look at who is making the statements; don’t just take it at face value”. “If you Google something, you get a hundred hits. Most people don’t think of the psychological angle. People aren’t going to embrace new ideas easily. Isaac Newton said if you come up with a new idea, you will spend the rest of your life trying to defend it. The idea of the mind-body connection is like that”. Karl Menninger said “One of these days the cancer research people…will wake up to the fact that psychology has an influence on tissue cells, a proposition which they have consistently regarded…as a preposterous heresy”. 

Psycho-neuro-immunology is a field that developed in the ’70s and studies the mind-body connection; particularly the influence of psychology and the nervous system on the immune system. Everything that we know that is negative is going to impair the immune system. Such as depression, despair, hatred, anger, repressed emotions, cynicism, bereavement, regrets, social isolation and many others. “Depression is the big Daddy of all of these. It’s going to affect your immune system. Happy people are going to be less sick than pessimistic people.”

A sense of purpose is important for retirees. Mr. Singer feels fortunate that he’s never had a boring moment in his life. Older people who are active and engaged in life are going to live longer and happier. In one study, being laid back, feeling happy, and social relationships were less important than staying productive in terms of longevity and health. He identifies Grandma Moses as a role model for healthy lifestyle. “She had every trait you’d expect for a centenarian.” 

He enjoys being a conduit between researchers and the lay public who have read his books and articles. Even though he himself is not a researcher of basic problems, he is an organizer of information from research and enjoys presenting it to the public. We will connect with Mr. Singer again to pursue more information about the mind-body connection. If you are interested in having Fred speak to your group on any of a wide variety of subjects related to the mind/body connection–for an hour or a one day seminar–he can be reached at Fred9243@q.com.