How the body works - The Heart
The heart is the pump that keeps our body working every day and every night. It is one of a kind pump, because it serves the human body a life time.
The heart consists of 4 chambers – 2 atria and 2 ventricles. The atria and ventricles are connected by valves. The blood first reaches the atria which opens its valves and sends it further to the ventricles, which then propel the blood further –to the lungs and the body. The heart sounds are the result of the valves closing when blood has come through to the ventricles.
The heart acts as one pump, but is divided into two pumps working simultaneously – the right side works by pumping blood to the lungs to be oxygenated, and the left side pumps the oxygenated blood to the body. The blood sent to the lungs go through the pulmonary artery, and the blood sent to the body go through aorta – the largest artery in the body.
For the heart to work so efficient, all the muscles in the heart need to cooperate. The way the muscles cooperate is through the electrical current which sweeps throughout the heart and activates all the muscles at the right time for a heartbeat to happen. This electrical activity can be recorded as an Electro-Cardio-Gram (ECG) which your physician can read and interpret. The ECG will show if the heart works as it normally does, or if an abnormal event has led the heart to not function properly.
Because the heart needs to work every second of your life, it needs the proper amount of nutrition. There are special vessels which bring nutrients and oxygen to the heart, called the coronary arteries. These small vessels are necessary for the heart to keep pumping blood and thus, keeping you alive. If by some chance, these vessels get damaged or clogged, the heart may not get enough nutrients or oxygens and will eventually cease to work which can lead to serious consequences - or death in worst cases.
Let us take care of our heart, because we only have one. Even if we are tired and take a break, our heart cannot - because if it takes a break, we would cease to exist.
Author: Bano Imam Afange (KEMSA Vice President)
Guyton and hall. Textbook of Medical Physiology, 12th Edition. Saunders, Elsevier