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Anatomy Of The Heart

    Anatomy Of The Heart

    Have you seen a heart picture? We all know that our heart is one of the most important organs in our body. But what does it do and how does it actually work? Learn more here.

    Heart: Picture the Cardiovascular System

    Your heart’s main purpose is to ensure the smooth flow of blood to organs and the rest of your body. As it pumps blood, your heart controls heart rate and blood pressure.

    If you remember that heart picture and posters of the body in school, you know that the cardiovascular system is composed of a network of arteries and veins. The heart itself is a muscular organ that is roughly the size of a fist and is situated right behind and slightly to the left of the breastbone.

    The right and left atria, which are the heart’s upper chambers, accept incoming blood while the more muscular right and left ventricles, which are the heart’s lower chambers, push blood out of the heart. Heart valves act as gates at the chamber openings.

    heart picture

    How does it function?

    The heart has four chambers: The right atrium receives blood from the veins and pumps it to the right ventricle, where it is loaded with oxygen. The left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it to the left ventricle, which is the strongest chamber and pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. The left ventricle’s vigorous contractions causes our blood pressure.

    A network of nerve tissue also runs through the heart, carrying the complicated signals that regulate contraction and relaxation, and a sac called the pericardium surrounds the heart. The coronary arteries run along the surface of the heart and supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle.

    Diagnostic tests, such as chest X ray, ECG, 2D Echo, and cardiac MRI can be used to check the heart anatomy and function. It’s essentially a “heart picture” to help your doctors.

    Common Heart Problems

    The following are the most common issues regarding the heart and its function.

    Coronary artery disease (CAD)

    Over time, cholesterol plaques can narrow the arteries carrying blood to the heart. Narrowed arteries are more susceptible to a sudden blood clot blocking them completely. This blockage is called a heart attack.

    Stable angina pectoris

    Narrowed coronary arteries generate predicted chest pain or discomfort with exercise. The blockages stop the heart from getting the extra oxygen it needs for vigorous activity. Symptoms usually subside with rest.

    Myocardial infarction

    Also known as a heart attack, myocardial infarction occurs when a coronary artery becomes unexpectedly blocked, starving the heart muscle of oxygen.

    Arrhythmia

    A heart rhythm disturbance or abnormal heart rhythm caused by alterations in the conduction of electrical impulses through the heart is referred to as an arrhythmia (dysrhythmia). Some arrhythmias are benign, but others can be fatal. Always consult your doctor for concerns.

    Heart failure

    Shortness of breath and leg edema are common signs of heart failure, which occurs when the heart is either too weak or too stiff to adequately pump blood throughout the body.

    Cardiomyopathy

    This is a condition of the heart muscle that results in abnormal heart size, thickness, and/or stiffness, which weakens the heart’s ability to pump blood.

    Myocarditis

    Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle, typically brought on by an infection.

    Pericarditis

    Frequent causes include viral infections, renal failure, autoimmune diseases, and inflammation of the heart’s pericardium.

    Pericardial effusion

    This is marked by fluid between the heart’s lining (pericardium), which is frequently caused by pericarditis.

    Atrial fibrillation

    Atrial fibrillation is one of the most prevalent arrhythmias and results from aberrant electrical impulses in the atria, which create an erratic heartbeat.

    Pulmonary embolism

    A blood clot commonly travels from the heart to the lungs during pulmonary embolism.

    Heart valve disease

    If you take a look at a heart picture, you’ll see that there are four heart valves, and each one might experience issues. If the condition is severe, heart failure can result. One example is Mitral Valve Prolapse, where, after blood has flowed through the valve, the mitral valve is somewhat pressed backward.

    Endocarditis

    This is an inflammation of the heart’s inner lining or heart valves; it typically results from a severe infection of the heart valves.

    Learn more about Heart Health here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Heart, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21704-heart, Accessed September 6, 2022

    Anatomy of the human heart, https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/heart-health/anatomy-of-a-human-heart, Accessed September 6, 2022

    Structure of the heart, https://training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/cardiovascular/heart/structure.html, Accessed September 6, 2022

    What is the cardiovascular system, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21833-cardiovascular-system, Accessed September 6, 2022

    Common heart conditions, https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/heart-and-blood-vessels/conditions/common-heart-conditions, Accessed September 6, 2022

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    Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel Updated 2 weeks agoMedically reviewed by Lauren Labrador, MD, FPCP, DPCC
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