How The Heart Works

Do you know that your Heart is the strongest muscle of your body? The heart is formed of special type of muscles called the cardiac muscle that is present in your heart only and it is not found elsewhere in your body. This special strong muscle can easily explain how the heart works since you were in the uterus of your mother. The heart size is quite similar to the size of your fist. it is located in the middle of your chest cavity slightly to the left. The heart muscle functions as a pump which pumps blood to your body. The heart consists of four chambers. The two upper chambers are called the right and left atria and they function as reservoirs and the two lower chambers are called the right and left ventricles and they function as pumps. Flow of blood inside your heart is guarded by four heart valves which ensures flow of blood in one direction. The heart receives blood supply through small blood vessels called coronary arteries.

How The Heart Works As a Pump

When your body uses the blood to produce energy and to do its functions, it consumes a big portion of oxygen in your blood. This oxygen has to be renewed or “refilled”. The body returns this blood to the heart through the superior vena cava and inferior vena cava. These 2 big veins drain venous blood and bring it to the right atrium “See Image”. This venous (blue) blood passes from the right atrium through the tricuspid valve to the right ventricle. The right ventricle then pumps this blood through the pulmonary valve to the pulmonary artery. The pulmonary artery takes this blood all the way to your lungs. In the lungs your blood gets its “Refill” of oxygen and becomes oxygenated (red) blood. This oxygen rich blood is returned through the pulmonary veins to your left atrium and then through the mitral valve to your left ventricle. The left ventricle will pump this blood through the aortic valve to the aorta (biggest artery in the body). The aorta carries this oxygen rich blood to the body which uses it to do its function. This cycle is called the cardiac cycle or blood circulation and explains how the heart works physiologically.

How The Heart works Abnormally

As any pump, the heart can be damaged. When the heart is affected by disease, it functions abnormally. Disease which affect the heart muscle will impair the ability of this muscle to contract well. Heart failure will happen. The patient may then start to develop symptoms of heart failure such as shortness of breath. Other diseases can affect the heart valves. These diseases will affect the flow of blood inside the heart chambers. Blood will flow in directions that is different from normal. This can result in enlargement of heart, development of irregular heart beats and sometimes heart failure. Diseases of the coronary arteries will decrease the blood reaching the heart. This can result in chest pain. Sometimes coronary arteries are blocked suddenly and this will lead to a heart attack. Heart attacks or acute coronary syndromes can be life threatening and require immediate medical attention.

Blood Circulation Through Your Body “Watch the Video”

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Yasser Elnahas

MD, PHD, Professor Of CardioVascular Surgery
Dr. Yasser Elnahas, Is an associate Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Elnahas was trained as a fellow At Texas Heart Institute And Mayo Clinic Foundation.Dr. Elnahas is dedicated to educating the general public about different disease conditions and simplifying the medical knowledge in an easy to understand terminology.

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