Throughout history and across cultures, people have viewed the heart symbolically as the “seat of the soul” and the source of human emotions. Although emotions don’t reside in the heart, they have powerful influence over the heart’s health and physiology. Cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar argues that his field can no longer ignore the impact of emotions on heart disease in light of intriguing new findings. For those who have so far discounted feelings as part of the health equation, Jauhar’s speech may prompt a change of heart.


Stress and grief can change the shape of the human heart.

For centuries, literature, art, philosophy and religion across cultures have depicted a deep connection between human emotions and the heart. Of course, emotions don’t originate in the heart. So is the emotional link to the heart just symbolic? Recent scientific discoveries confirm that emotions indeed have an impact on the mechanics of the heart – but not exactly in the way the ancients had imagined.

In the 1990s, researchers found that intense stress or grief can temporarily change the human heart into a shape that resembles a takotsubo, a Japanese pot with a wide belly and a narrow neck. Those suffering from

About the Speaker

Cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar is the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. He is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times

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