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The heart

The heart

The heart is the central pump of the cardiovascular system beating several billion times over our lifetime.

Biology

Keywords

heart, atriums, ventricle, heart valves, cardiac muscle, heart sound, pulse, coronary artery, vascular system, vein, aortic arch, pulmonary artery, cardiovascular system, systemic circulation, pulmonary circulation, blood flow, heart string, bicuspid valve, organ, closed circulatory system, human, biology

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Scenes

  • - The sinus node, the impulse-generating center of the heart is found here. Carbon dioxide-rich blood passes through the inferior and superior vena cava into the right atrium.
  • - The cardiac muscle is the thickest, about 10 mm (0.39 in) here. The left ventricle carries fresh (oxygen-rich) blood through the aorta to the body.

  • - It beats about 70 times per minute at rest. In one day our heart beats about 100,000 times and the two ventricles pump more than 7,000 liters (1,849 gallons) of blood each.

  • - It beats about 70 times per minute at rest. In one day our heart beats about 100,000 times and the two ventricles pump more than 7,000 liters (1,849 gallons) of blood each.

  • - The sinus node, the impulse-generating center of the heart is found here. Carbon dioxide-rich blood passes through the inferior and superior vena cava into the right atrium.
  • - The cardiac muscle is the thickest, about 10 mm (0.39 in) here. The left ventricle carries fresh (oxygen-rich) blood through the aorta to the body.

Narration

The cardiovascular system is a network of blood vessels in the human body; its function is to transport blood to the cells. The heart is a muscular organ with four chambers, and, with its contractions, it ensures a continuous flow of blood through both systemic and pulmonary circulation. The heart valves ensure that blood only flows in one direction, and the heart itself can adapt to strains due to its regulatory mechanisms and neural and hormonal impacts.

The heart is located within the pericardium behind the sternum, between the right and left lungs. It is slightly off to the left compared to the position of the chest’s center line. An average human heart contracts about 72 times per minute, which means that it contracts about 2.5 billion times during an average human lifespan.

Anatomically, the heart consists of two parts, a right and a left heart, both of which can be further divided into two parts, the atria and the ventricles. Thus the human heart has four chambers. The atria are responsible for receiving blood and conveying it towards the ventricles, while the ventricles are responsible for pumping the blood out of the heart. Both the atria and the ventricles function simultaneously. When the atria contract, the ventricles relax and vice versa.

Coronary arteries supply oxygenated blood to the heart, which is important because supplying oxygen and nutrients to the cardiac muscles is vital for the proper functioning of the heart. The electrical conduction system of the heart ensures its rhythmic contraction. This means that the heart does not need extrinsic neural control to generate and transmit impulses; however, it is connected to the central nervous system through its extrinsic innervation.

Certain parts of the heart are separated from each other by the heart valves, which ensure that blood only flows in one direction. The left atrium is separated from the left ventricle by the bicuspid valve (or mitral valve). On the other hand, the right atrium is separated from the right ventricle by the tricuspid valve, which has three cusps. The bicuspid and tricuspid valves, which are formed from the flap-like extensions of the endocardium, are connected to the papillary muscle by the heart strings.

When the atria contract, the valves open and blood flows into the ventricles. When the atria relax and the ventricles contract, the valves close and prevent the backflow of blood into the atria.

There are further valves at the roots of the great vessels, these are called the semilunar valves. These comprise three pocket-like endocardial cusps. When the ventricles relax, these cusps are filled with blood from the large arteries, their edges touch each other and the vessels close, thus preventing the backflow of blood to the ventricles.

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