What Dr. Luke has to Say About Evaluating the Heart for Problems

China has three problems, which combined together make for major health problems in its immediate future.  Those three problems are smoking, a growing elderly population and a rapidly growing amount of diabetes. These three problems combined together will yield large amounts of heart disease.  Why is this?  Currently in China most of its adult men smoke. The number of men who smoke in China is around 300 million.  Second, the rapidly growing elderly population is prone to heart disease which is more common in the population over 65 years of age.  Finally, diabetes is rapidly rising due to poorer dietary habits and less exercise.  People with Diabetes have more problems with heart disease.  Thus these three things together will allow for much more heart disease to occur in China.

This is important because in some parts of China they have nearly as much heart disease as western countries.  Currently in western countries heart disease is by far the largest cause of death and uses more health care dollars than any other disease.  This will be the case with China and will cost individuals and the whole country large amounts of money as well as much pain and suffering.  How will the people of China respond to this great problem?  One of the most important is prevention.  However, treatment of this great and growing problem will require advanced techniques to diagnose and treat this problem.  How can this be done?

China and most of the world, which has large amounts of heart disease, have a procedure called a heart catheterization.  This is a procedure, which allows for a doctor to put a catheter into the heart and see if a person has underlying heart disease, which is the cause of heart problems, they may have.

How is this procedure done and what are its consequences?  Zhu Rong Hai is a patient who will illustrate this problem and how the procedure can be used. Zhu Rong Hai was 52 years old and had felt fine until one day he had severe chest pain.  He was at work and one of his colleagues called the ambulance and took him immediately to the hospital.  When he arrived at the hospital they told him he had a heart attack.  They told him that his heart attack was caused by a blockage in one of the arteries around his heart.  The doctor's told Zhu Rong Hai that a medicine could be given which could break the clot and prevent more damage to his heart.  Zhu Rong Hai agreed to this and was immediately given the medicine, which helped his heart a lot.

The next day Zhu Rong Hai was doing a lot better.  The doctor told him though that they needed to do a procedure, which would allow them to better understand how extensive were the underlying heart problems.  This procedure was called a heart catheterization.  What they did was put a catheter into a vein in his arm or groin and the catheter would be placed into his heart.  In his heart the catheter could tell how much underlying heart problem Zhu Rong Hai had.  In fact this same procedure is used in patients all over the world.

Zhu Rong Hai asked what are the side effects of this procedure.  The doctor said that there are several.   First, the place where the catheter is put in can have a lot of bleeding.  This is rare but can occur.  Second, the place where the catheter is put in can get infected.  Again this is rare but it can occur.  Third, about 1-2% of patients who have this procedure has serious complications and can die.  There are other very rare complications besides these but these are three are the most common. The doctor told Zhu Rong Hai that the risk of not doing the procedure is that he could have heart disease, which he could be helped with, but they would not know.

Zhu Rong Hai was glad he could get good help for his heart problems.  However, he was anxious about the procedure and anxious about his heart problem.  He had never had anxiety like this before.   The doctor told him that he should think about the procedure and latter tonight he would stop by to see if Zhu Rong Hai wanted the procedure the next day.  The doctor told him that they should not delay on having the procedure. 

A friend of Zhu Rong Hai stopped by his room just after the doctor had left.  The friend had heard he was in the hospital and stopped by to see how he was doing.  Zhu Rong Hai told him what had happened and about the possible procedure for the next day.  He also told his friend about his anxiety over having the heart problem and the procedure.  His friend told him he knew of a way to not have this problem.  Zhu Rong Hai was very interested in knowing how to have less anxiety at this time. 

Zhu Rong Hai's friend showed him a place in the Bible. This place in the Bible said the following, 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me (Psalms 23.1-4).'

Zhu Rong Hai's friend explained that this was about God acting as a shepherd for us.  Because he is our shepherd we will not be in want.  God restores us.  He guides us.  God comforts us even when we go through difficult times, which seem like we are going through the valley of the shadow of death.  Zhu Rong Hai knew that though he knew little about God and the Bible this sounded good to him.  He wanted to know more about God and how he could help him with his anxiety like the shepherd these sentences talked about.

His friend told him that  God can be known but we need to know how to get to know him.  His friend showed him a place right next to the last one, which said the following about God.  'The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.  Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.  He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior.  Such is the generation of those who seek him (Psalms 24.1-6a).'

Zhu Rong Hai's friend told him that his this showed everything in the world is God's.  The people, the animals, the land, everything is God's.  Those who have a pure heart and clean hands can approach God.  This caused Zhu Rong Hai to pause.  He knew that just like his heart had disease, so his heart also was not pure.  In fact he told his friend, he knew of no one's heart that was completely pure.  Thus who could approach God?  Who could receive relief from their anxiety?  His friend told him this was a very good question.  He also told him that just as the heart catheterization procedure could help his underlying heart disease problem his heart problem towards God could be helped.  There was a way to help this problem.  His friend would show him in the Bible how this could occur.

Zhu Rong Hai agreed to have the heart catheterization procedure done.  Because his friend had told him about how God could help anxiety he already had less anxiety.   During the procedure the doctors found some other blockages which were present around the arteries in his heart.  The doctor was able to put some small devices into these blockages to open them up so blood could flow easier through these arteries and help prevent further heart problems.  The procedure went well and afterwards the doctor told Zhu Rong Hai that he should do well.  The doctor did tell Zhu Rong Hai that he should stop smoking, cut back the amount of food he eats each day,  and exercise 30 minutes a day.  He should wait to exercise until the doctor told him it would be ok as exercise immediate after a heart attack can be dangerous. 

The doctor also told Zhu Rong Hai that he probably had diabetes.  This was probably related to him being overweight.  Regardless, the doctor told Zhu Rong Hai that this and his smoking definitely contributed to his heart problems.  The doctor told him if he did not loose weight now and stop smoking now he would probably not live until he was 60 years of age.  Zhu Rong Hai was definitely committed to helping his heart by loosing weight and exercising which would help his diabetes and stopping smoking.

Zhu Rong Hai the next day told his friend the good news about his heart.  He also told him about the news that he had diabetes and needed to work hard at loosing weight and stop smoking.  He wanted to know how his 'spiritual heart' could be made whole he God could not accept an unpure heart like his?

His friend showed him another place in the Bible, which read as follows.  'There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together, become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.  Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.  The poison of vipers is on their lips.  Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.  Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.  There is no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3.11-18).'  Though Zhu Rong Hai thought this was a harsh description of mankind he wondered if this was a true description. If this was true who could come to God?

His friend emphasized the point that no one does right.  'All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23).'  All of mankind is lost. Sin his friend explained was going against what God wants us to do.  It is doing what we want and not what God wants.  It is what is described in the harsh passage his friend had just written.  This left him feeling like he did when he first learned that he had his heart attack.  It left him feeling helpless and hopeless.  How was anyone able to come to God? 

His friend showed him a place right around where they just read which said the following.  'But now, a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Jesus as a sacrifice taking away our sin through faith in his blood.  He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished (Romans 3.21-25).'

Zhu Rong Hai's friend told him that Jesus Christ took our sins for us.  He did this by taking our sins on the Cross-where God's punishment of the sins could be placed.  Thus Jesus Christ bore our sins and we do not bear our sins.  This was really amazing to Zhu Rong Hai.  His friend told him 'God loved us so much that he gave his only Son that whoever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3.16).  His friend pointed out that this last sentence was also from the Bible.  Zhu Rong Hai asked how he could accept Jesus Christ as his Savior?

His friend showed him another place in the Bible.  'That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that raised him from the dead you will be saved (Romans 10.9).'  All we need to do is confess that Jesus is Lord of the world and our lives because he died on the Cross-for our sins.  Then believe that after he died on the Cross-God raised Jesus from the dead to show God's power over sin and death.  If you believe these two things you will be saved forever and the life of peace and joy in Jesus Christ will be yours.

Zhu Rong Hai wanted to believe in Jesus and prayed this prayer with his friend.  'Dear Lord Jesus, I confess my sins to you and believe that I have sinned before God.  I believe that you died on the Cross-for my sins and are now Lord of my life.  I believe that after you died on the Cross you rose again to new life to show your power over sin and death.  I ask that you come into my life to give me new life.'  Zhu Rong Hai received new life in Jesus Christ so he would not only have a heart helped with heart disease on this earth but also for now and all eternity he would have a pure heart before God so he could live with God forever.