The heart can be best described as a pump, which is really the simplest description of this remarkable organ. It is a muscular organ the size of your fist that is located slightly left center in your chest. In this article I am going to go into the details about the structure and function or the anatomy and physiology of the heart.
Some Facts About the Heart
The average heart pumps about 7,500 liters of blood throughout your body. It beats about 100,000 times per day, which is about 36 million times in a year.
Your blood carries oxygen and nutrients, which your body needs to survive. The cardiovascular system is made up of blood vessels called arteries, capillaries and veins, which pumps blood into every part of your body.
Coronary Arteries: How does the heart nourish itself?
The blood vessels that feed the heart with nutrients and oxygen rich blood are called coronary arteries. They nourish and extend over the surface of the heart and branch into smaller capillaries.
Electrical Conduction Pathway of the Heart
The electrical system of the heart that regulates it and keeps it beating. This electrical system is known as the conduction system of the heart.
Electrical impulses are generated in Sinoatrial node (SA node) located near the superior vena cava in the right atrium.
The SA node is the natural pacemaker of the heart. It initiates the heartbeat and determines the heart rate.
Electrical impulses coming SA node is sent to the atrioventricular node (AV node), which causes the atrium to contract.
Once the blood fills the ventricles, the signal are sent from the bundle of His to the purkinje fibers and then the ventricles contracts. And every contraction makes blood pump into our cardiovascular system.
Blood Flow Through the Heart
The heart is divided into left and right sides and has four separate chambers. The top two are called atria, and it is their job to collect blood. The bottom two are called ventricles, which pump the blood out.
Valves (tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral and aortic) are present in the heart. A valve is a one way pumps that make sure that the blood flows the right way.
The division of the heart into the left and right sides prevents mixture of oxygenated (oxygen rich) blood with deoxygenated (oxygen poor) blood.
Deoxygenated blood returning to the heart after circulating through the body comes in from the superior and inferior vena cava into the right atrium.
From the right atrium the blood is pumped through the tricuspid valves into the right ventricles.
The right ventricle pumps the deoxygenated blood through the pulmonary valves and the blood then passes through the pulmonary arteries to your lungs.
Every time you take a breath, oxygen moves from your lungs to your blood vessels and gets added to your blood, in this way the blood become oxygenated.
The oxygenated blood then moves out of the lungs through the pulmonary vein back into the left atrium of the heart.
Then the blood is pumped through the mitral valve into the left ventricles and pumped through the aortic valve and out of the heart through the aorta to the rest of the body.
This intricate system of pumping and circulation is continuous and repeats over and over again.
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Thank you for reading!
Pam is the founder and author of InfoWatchNurse and ThinkStethoscopes. Pam is an award-winning leader. In 2017, She pioneered the first ever peer tutoring program for nursing students at York University. She was also a Peer Tutor and Mentor for nursing students. Today, Pam creates posts and articles on health topics to give back to the nursing community. She blogs about nursing, health, nursing skills and other health related topics on her websites. You can connect with Pam on Linkedin and Instagram.