We’ve heard about hearts in various places such as during Valentine’s Day or having a broken heart. But does anyone know why the heart is such an important organ of the body?
Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood around the body. The blood provides the necessary oxygen and nutrients to the body. It also carries away waste. So pumping the blood around the body is a very important function of the heart.
So how does the heart actually pump the blood around the body? The heart is a muscle that acts like two pumps. The actual heart as seen in this picture looks nothing like what you see during Valentine’s Day!
The right side of the heart receives oxygen-poor blood from the body and pumps it to the lungs. The left side of the heart receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it to the body. Does anyone notice anything strange about this picture?
The right and the left sides of the heart are switched because you are actually looking at someone else’s heart who is facing you just as they would be if you were a doctor with a heart disease patient on an operating table.
Now the heart is made up of four chambers with two chambers on each side of the heart. Just before the heart beats, the top two chambers called the atria fill up with blood returning to the heart from the body and the lungs. The bottom two chambers called the ventricles squeeze the blood out of the heart by contracting and this causes the heart to beat. Try squeezing your hand into a fist and this is kind of like what the heart does to pump the blood out. The heart beats about 70 beats per minute so the heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times in an average lifetime.
How do the ventricles know when to contract? Electric impulses traveling through special conducting fibres trigger the heart to contract.
The thick wall of muscle called the septum separates the right and the left sides of the heart preventing the oxygen-poor blood in the right side of the heart from mixing with the oxygen-rich blood in the left side