Neil: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute
English. I'm Neil.
Rob: And hello, I'm Rob.
Neil: Today’s topic is about our health
and in particular our hearts. How’s your
Rob: Er, fine, I hope, as far as I know.
Neil: Do you take care of it?
Rob : Well, not my heart specifically, but
my health in general, yes. I like to exercise
regularly and I try to eat healthy foods.
Neil: So that cheese burger I saw you eating
just now was a healthy cheese burger?
Rob: Fake news! You’re making that up, Neil!
Don’t believe him, listeners. It would break
my heart if people thought I ate junk food.
Neil: Now that’s an interesting expression.
‘It would break my heart.’ We say that
when we talk about things that upset us.
Of course, we don’t really mean that our heart
is actually breaking.
Rob: However, you do sometimes hear stories
about people who they say ‘died from a broken
Neil: That is today’s topic - Can you die
from a broken heart? First though, the quiz
question. The first human-to-human heart transplant
took place in 1967. But what country was it
in? Was it a) South Africa, b) USA or c) China
What do you think, Rob?
Rob: Well, I think it is definitely
a) South Africa.
Neil: OK, we’ll give you the answer at the
end of the programme.
Now back to the subject of broken hearts and
if you can die from one. Dr Nikki Stamp is
an Australian heart surgeon. She’s written
a book, helpfully called ‘Can You Die From
A Broken Heart?’ She was a guest on the
BBC Radio 4 programme Woman’s Hour and was
asked that very question. Does she think it
Dr Nikki Stamp: Yes, short answer is yes.
It’s a little bit more nuanced than that.
For most of us when we have a broken heart
whether it’s bereavement or a relationship
coming to an end we will be fine. We’ll
muddle our way through it, we’ll take not
so good care of ourselves but we’ll get
there. However the physical effects still
happen and it is a big stress on your emotions
obviously but also on your body.
Neil: So she says, yes, it is possible to
die from a broken heart. But, Rob, is it as
clear and simple as that?
Rob: Well, no. She said it was a bit more
nuanced. This means it’s not a simple relationship.
A situation that is nuanced has small but
possibly important differences.
Neil: She mentioned a couple of situations
where we say that people could have a broken
heart, didn’t she?
Rob: Yes, she talked about times of great
unhappiness and emotional stress. One of the
ones she mentioned was bereavement. Bereavement
is the intense feeling of sadness we get when
someone close to us dies.
Neil: The other situation where we say people
are broken-hearted is, as Dr Stamp said, when
a relationship comes to an end. So if your
boyfriend, girlfriend, husband wife or lover
decides they no longer want to be with you.
Rob: So these are times when we use the expression
to be broken-hearted. But, thankfully, they
don’t usually lead to death. She said that
usually we muddle through. This expression
means that we get through our sadness. Maybe
slowly and maybe we don’t think clearly
and don’t make the right decisions – but
in the end, we mend our broken hearts.
Neil: For some people, a few people though,
the emotional stress does have an effect on
the body, it does lead to physical symptoms
and sometimes, sadly, death. Here’s Dr Stamp
again. Which expression does she use instead
of the word ‘died’?
Dr Nikki Stamp: And then for some people,
you will die of a broken heart. We do tend
to see that in people who you know, a few
weeks after grandma passed away,
grandad passed away not long after.
Rob: She says that dying of a broken heart
can happen with older people and she used
the expression passed away rather than
the word ‘died’.
Neil: Dying from a broken heart may be quite
rare, but heart problems still exist for many,
particularly those who are very overweight.
This is a problem in many parts of the world.
But why is that?
Rob: Dr Stamp says that we are increasingly
time-poor. We have less and less free time,
as we are spending more working.
Neil: This leads to our not doing as much
exercise and eating more convenience foods
rather than making our own food from
Rob: The doctor says that we are not prioritising
our health as we should be. Prioritising means
deciding how important different things are.
So we are not thinking of our health as being
as important as we should.
Neil: Right, well we’re quite time-poor
in this programme, so it’s time for the
answer to our quiz. In which country was the
first human-to-human heart transplant carried
out? The choices were South Africa, USA or
China. And what did you say, Rob?
Rob: Yeah, I was sure it was South Africa.
Neil: Well, you were right to be sure because
the answer is South Africa. Congratulations
if you got that right. Now just time to
recap today’s vocabulary.
Rob: We started off with nuanced. This adjective
means something is not as simple as it might
seem. There may be small but important things
that need to be considered.
Neil: Then there was bereavement. The sadness
we feel when someone close to us has passed away.
Rob: 'Passed away' was one of our other words,
and it’s a more gentle way of saying ‘died’.
Neil: We also had the phrasal verb muddle
through. This expression means to get to the
end of a difficult situation somehow. Not
always by making the right decisions but in
the end, getting there.
Rob: Being time-poor was the expression for
not having enough free time.
Neil: And finally prioritising was the noun
for deciding how important different things
are. Well that’s all from 6 Minute English
today. Don’t break our hearts, do join us
again, but in the meantime you can find us
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bbclearningenglish.com, where you can find
all kinds of audio programmes, videos, activities
and quizzes to help you improve your English!
Thanks for joining us and goodbye.