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A Piece of My Mind
May 5, 2020

Systole and Diastole, Strength and Openness

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Bellevue Hospital, NYU Langone Health, New York, New York
JAMA. 2020;323(17):1726-1727. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.3095

“Seize diastole,” my medical school professor said. The words were a clever metaphor for a life well lived. During systole, the powerful myocardium contracts, generating pressure that propels open the aortic valve. Blood flows out into the circulation.

Diastole, the process of letting go and filling up, is not as exciting. It could even be taken for granted, cut shorter and shorter. But without adequate time for diastole, there’s no blood to be thrust forward. Homeostasis crumbles. Just as the myocardium needs time to release and refill, so does the soul.

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