On a recent drive to school with Cheyenne, I heard three songs use the term “heart attack” in regard to matters of the heart, but not to speak to the actual physical malady that would put one in a hospital. This casual use of the term, which I must confess I too have used liberally in the past, got me thinking about cardiologists. I wondered, what do cardiologists think about the usage of the term “heart attack” in casual day-to-day language? Does it irritate them? Are they chagrined at the ease with which folks throw it about to express shock, love stress, or surprise?
I wonder because I am sensitive to the terms emergency, disaster, and catastrophe when I hear them used casually for events that are not in my mind at the scale that warrant the terms. Yet, I too use them on occasion in my own life to describe situations or others’ assessments of situations (case-in-point: the cat-astrophe of the cat-mess tree). Mostly, I am troubled by media’s inaccurate use of the terms in hazard events. But I recognize that my angst arises from my specialized definitions for these terms and my understanding of scale within an emergency management framework. I know that when a person says of a failed dinner party that “It was a complete disaster!”, that they are not trying to use the same definitional framework we employ in emergency management.
I realize that in language, term usage is all relative. Which brings me back to my initial curiosity – does the casual use of the term “heart attack” give cardiologists momentary angst just as the casual usage of emergency, disaster, and catastrophe give me? And do they ever use the term casually – and if so, does it feel all wrong from a listener’s perspective?
I really do wonder about such things. I hope to hear from some cardiologists about this. I know they are busy saving lives and all – never fear, I can wait patiently until they have a free moment. After all, this isn’t an emergency. 😉
Day one thousand two hundred and forty-six of the new forty – obla di obla da