Men's Health

The #1 Way to Save Your Heart

Your heart does much more than pump blood. It’s an exquisitely sensitive organ that may be more in touch with your emotions than you realize.

HIGH ON A HIMALAYAN PEAK, JUST BELOW 20,000 FEET, CONRAD ANKER FELT AN UNUSUAL SENSATION: HE WAS TIRED.

For a typical 53-year-old, this would not have been surprising. Anker, an acclaimed mountaineer, had been climbing for seven hours since 2 a.m. and was on his sixth rope-supported section on the way to the 22,621-foot summit of an unconquered peak called Lunag-Ri. That’s enough to whip anyone. But Anker was not just anyone. He was in remarkable physical shape for a man of any age. Four years earlier, he had become one of just a handful of people to summit Everest without supplemen tal oxygen. The man was indefatigable.

But on this day he stopped climbing and sat down. He thought it could’ve been altitude sickness. Then it hit him—hard. It was much more than the altitude. “I just couldn’t go on,” he says. “I was stopped in my tracks.”

He turned to his climbing partner, David Lama. “David,” he said, “this is not good.”

As an athlete, Anker was acutely aware of the state of his heart. “I can feel it when I’m climbing, but also when I’m sleeping or resting.” Just a few months earlier he’d undergone a battery of tests as he trekked Kilimanjaro, a 19,341-foot summit. Everything had checked out perfectly, so this sensation disturbed him. “It was like a severe muscle pain in my heart,” he says.

He and Lama turned back to the advance base camp thousands of feet below, rappelling down the mountain almost by instinct. When they arrived, Anker began to feel better and decided to tough it out. “I said, ‘Yeah, I got this, I’m just going

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