Our hearts are complex organs, and in Episode 4 of Season 2’s Healthy Matters Podcast interventional cardiologist Dr. Louis Kohl walks us through some of the amazing ways it functions to keep blood flowing throughout our bodies, as well as what happens when things go wrong. We start with a look at some high-profile athletes who collapsed with a rare cardiac injury. So, what happened in these cases?

“The thing that makes the most sense in Damar Hamlin’s case is that he experienced what is called commotio cordis,” explained Dr. Kohl. “It’s the most unlucky of most unlucky circumstances – a condition where if you get hit square in the center of the chest, just at the right moment in your heartbeat cycle, the electric cardiac cycle, it can cause your heart to transition from a normal coordinated pumping motion to what we call ventricular fibrillation. It’s when the heart is just quivering there, not pushing any meaningful blood out to the body.”

This led to a great conversation about the difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest, plumbing and electricity. And with all that blood pumping through our hearts, you’d think it would have those chambers as an ample access to blood supply for its own function. It doesn’t!

“The heart doesn’t get blood from the pumping chamber,” said Dr. Kohl. “It’s got its own little set of arteries, and when those get blocked, that causes a heart attack – but only a small portion of heart attacks – less than 5 percent.”

We talked about how to do bystander CPR and what to do if you encounter someone who may be in cardiac arrest (call 911!), and Dr. Kohl answered many other interesting questions about cholesterol, aspirin, blood pressure, and well, staying alive.

Also – have you ever wondered what happens to those stents we hear about getting placed in arteries? How do they get there? Do they need to get removed after so many years? How exactly do they work?

Dr. Kohl explained what he does when he performs a stent procedure, whether it’s for chronic angina, chronic chest pain, or if you’ve had a heart attack and an artery is blocked – and how he uses a little pressurized balloon to push aside any clots that might be in the way. You might be surprised to hear that he doesn’t remove the clot.

Blood flow is at the heart of heart matters – and we get the inside scoop on hearts with Dr. Kohl on this episode of Healthy Matters.