By Dr. Michael Jacobson, D.O., M.P.H., CHM Medical Director
*Editor’s note: This information was published in the February 2022 issue of Heartfelt Magazine, CHM’s monthly magazine that provides CHM membership-related tips and tricks, medical advice from doctors, testimonies from CHM members, and more. Please refer to the CHM Guidelines and applicable web pages for the most up-to-date information regarding CHM membership, sharing eligibility, and ministry news.*
Author’s note: February is American Heart Month and we celebrate love on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. Accordingly, I reached back to 1996 and one of the earliest columns I ever wrote for CHM. I think you’ll find this adapted article very relevant to today!
Proverbs 17:22 states, “A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
As a physician, I’ve always found that verse of scripture particularly interesting, and fascinating research demonstrates that this verse has significance far greater than I had imagined.
Many of us are aware that smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are all risk factors for heart disease; however, major depression is the single best predictor of heart disease. Patients who are depressed while recovering from a heart attack are eight times more likely to die than recovering heart patients who are hopeful and happy. Men who complain of high anxiety are at six times greater risk for sudden death from a heart attack. Finally, a Type A personality’s time pressure frustration also puts them at greater risk. Did Paul sense this in Colossians 3:15 when he wrote, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts”?
In addition to joy and peace, science has discovered that having a heart of genuine love has great health benefits. For example, other characteristics of the Type A personality that put a person at higher risk for heart disease are unresolved conflicts (anger, bitterness, hostility, or resentment) and social isolation (few or no truly close relationships with others). Consider that Jesus told us that genuine love for God and others was the greatest of all commandments (Matthew 22:37-40) and research shows us that when we “harden” our heart towards our God or our brother, we “harden” our physical heart as well.