Anatomy & Physiology 1 - Heartbt | Heart Disease | Heart Surgery | Chest Pains | Bypass

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Anatomy & Physiology 1

The Heart
 


The Heart
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The heart is the hardest working muscle in the human body that functions as a pump. To understand this function you must first understand that every cell in our body - from the cells in our hair to the cells in our toes need OXYGEN and NUTRIENTS to survive and keep us alive. Since they can't get these nutrients themselves, blood is used to deliver them right to the cells. It also carries away waste. The heart thus pumps blood filled with oxygen and nutrients which it picks up from the lungs and digestive system respectively through the blood vessels to the body tissues.

Your heart, shaped more like an upside-down pear is located almost in the center of the chest and consists of:

• Two Atria And Two Ventricles

  • The atria receive blood coming back to the heart.

  • The ventricles pump the blood out of the heart.

 

Right Atrium

The right atrium receives de-oxygenated blood from the body through the superior vena cava (head and upper body) and inferior vena cava (legs and lower torso). The sinoatrial node sends an impulse that causes the cardiac muscle tissue of the atrium to contract in a coordinated, wave-like manner. The tricuspid valve, which separates the right atrium from the right ventricle, opens to allow the de-oxygenated blood collected in the right atrium to flow into the right ventricle..  

Right Ventricle

The right ventricle receives de-oxygenated blood as the right atrium contracts. The pulmonary valve leading into the pulmonary artery is closed, allowing the ventricle to fill with blood. Once the ventricles are full, they contract. As the right ventricle contracts, the tricuspid valve closes and the pulmonary valve opens. The closure of the tricuspid valve prevents blood from backing into the right atrium and the opening of the pulmonary valve allows the blood to flow into the pulmonary artery toward the lungs.  

Left Atrium

The left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the lungs through the pulmonary vein. As the contraction triggered by the sinoatrial node progresses through the atria, the blood passes through the mitral valve into the left ventricle.  

Left Ventricle

The left ventricle receives oxygenated blood as the left atrium contracts. The blood passes through the mitral valve into the right ventricle. The aortic valve leading into the aorta is closed, allowing the ventricle to fill with blood. Once the ventricles are full, they contract. As the left ventricle contracts, the mitral valve closes and the aortic valve opens. The closure of the mitral valve prevents blood from backing into the left atrium and the opening of the aortic valve allows the blood to flow into the aorta and flow throughout the body.  


• Blood Vessels
compose a network of arteries and veins that carry blood throughout the body.

  • Arteries transport blood from the heart to the body tissues.

  • Veins carry blood back to the heart.

 
Superior Vena Cava

The superior vena cava is one of the two main veins bringing de-oxygenated blood from the body to the heart. Veins from the head and upper body feed into the superior vena cava, which empties into the right atrium of the heart.  

Inferior Vena Cava

The inferior vena cava is one of the two main veins bringing de-oxygenated blood from the body to the heart. Veins from the legs and lower torso feed into the inferior vena cava, which empties into the right atrium of the heart.  

Aorta

The aorta is the largest single blood vessel in the body. It is approximately the diameter of your thumb. This vessel carries oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle to the various parts of the body.  

Pulmonary Artery

The pulmonary artery is the vessel transporting de-oxygenated blood from the right ventricle to the lungs. A common misconception is that all arteries carry oxygen-rich blood. It is more appropriate to classify arteries as vessels carrying blood away from the heart.  

Pulmonary Vein

The pulmonary vein is the vessel transporting oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the left atrium. A common misconception is that all veins carry de-oxygenated blood. It is more appropriate to classify veins as vessels carrying blood to the heart.  


• Four Valves
The four heart valves include the following:

  • tricuspid valve: located between the right atrium and the right ventricle

  • pulmonary valve: located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery

  • mitral valve: located between the left atrium and the left ventricle

  • aortic valve: located between the left ventricle and the aorta

 
Each valve has flaps, called leaflets, that allow the forward flow of blood and prevent the backward flow.
A valve lets something in and keeps it there by closing - think of walking through a door. The door shuts behind you and keeps you from going backward.
Two of the heart valves are the mitral valve and the tricuspid valve. They let blood flow from the atria to the ventricles. The other two are called the aortic valve and pulmonary valve, and they're in charge of controlling the flow as the blood leaves the heart. These valves all work to keep the blood flowing forward. They open up to let the blood move ahead, then they close quickly to keep the blood from flowing backward.  





• Anatomy and Function of the Heart Valves



Four types of valves regulate blood flow through your heart:

  • The tricuspid valve regulates blood flow between the right atrium and right ventricle.

  • The pulmonary valve controls blood flow from the right ventricle into the pulmonary arteries, which carry blood to your lungs to pick up oxygen.

  • The mitral valve lets oxygen-rich blood from your lungs pass from the left atrium into the left ventricle.

  • The aortic valve opens the way for oxygen-rich blood to pass from the left ventricle into the aorta, your body's largest artery, where it is delivered to the rest of your body.  



Tricuspid Valve

The tricuspid valve separates the right atrium from the right ventricle. It opens to allow the de-oxygenated blood collected in the right atrium to flow into the right ventricle. It closes as the right ventricle contracts, preventing blood from returning to the right atrium; thereby, forcing it to exit through the pulmonary valve into the pulmonary artery.  

Mitral Value

The mitral valve separates the left atrium from the left ventricle. It opens to allow the oxygenated blood collected in the left atrium to flow into the left ventricle. It closes as the left ventricle contracts, preventing blood from returning to the left atrium; thereby, forcing it to exit through the aortic valve into the aorta.  

Pulmonary Valve

The pulmonary valve separates the right ventricle from the pulmonary artery. As the ventricles contract, it opens to allow the de-oxygenated blood collected in the right ventricle to flow to the lungs. It closes as the ventricles relax, preventing blood from returning to the heart.  

Aortic Valve

The aortic valve separates the left ventricle from the aorta. As the ventricles contract, it opens to allow the oxygenated blood collected in the left ventricle to flow throughout the body. It closes as the ventricles relax, preventing blood from returning to the heart.  


• An Electrical System
Controls how fast the heartbeats




An electrical stimulus is generated by the sinus node (also called the sinoatrial node, or SA node), which is a small mass of specialized tissue located in the right atrium (right upper chamber) of the heart. The sinus node generates an electrical stimulus periodically (60-100 times per minute under normal conditions). This electrical stimulus travels down through the conduction pathways (similar to the way electricity flows through power lines from the power plant to your house) and causes the heart's chambers to contract and pump out blood. The right and left atria (the two upper chambers of the heart) are stimulated first and contract a short period of time before the right and left ventricles (the two lower chambers of the heart). The electrical impulse travels from the sinus node to the atrioventricular (AV) node, where it stops for a very short period, then continues down the conduction pathways via the bundle of His into the ventricles. The bundle of His divides into right and left pathways to provide electrical stimulation to both ventricles. Normally, as the electrical impulse moves through the heart, the heart contracts about 60 to 100 times a minute. Each contraction represents one heartbeat. The atria contract a fraction of a second before the ventricles so their blood empties into the ventricles before the ventricles contract.

Your heart does not work alone, though. Your brain tracks the conditions around you—climate, stress, and your level of physical activity—and adjusts your cardiovascular system to meet those needs. The younger you are, the faster your heart beats. A baby's heart beats about 90 times a minute. A twelve year old heart beats about 78 times a minute and an adult heart beats about 70 times a minute. Of course the more active you are, the more your heart beats, since the cells need oxygen faster to keep you moving. The human heart is a muscle designed to remain strong and reliable for a hundred years or longer. By reducing your risk factors for cardiovascular disease, you may help your heart stay healthy longer.   


The Conduction System

Electrical impulses from your heart muscle (the myocardium) cause your heart to beat (contract). This electrical signal begins in the sinoatrial (SA) node, located at the top of the right atrium. The SA node is sometimes called the heart's "natural pacemaker." When an electrical impulse is released from this natural pacemaker, it causes the atria to contract. The signal then passes through the atrioventricular (AV) node. The AV node checks the signal and sends it through the muscle fibers of the ventricles, causing them to contract. The SA node sends electrical impulses at a certain rate, but your heart rate may still change depending on physical demands, stress, or hormonal factors  

The heartbeat

A heartbeat is a two-part pumping action that takes about a second. As blood collects in the upper chambers (the right and left atria), the heart's natural pacemaker (the SA node) sends out an electrical signal that causes the atria to contract. This contraction pushes blood through the tricuspid and mitral valves into the resting lower chambers (the right and left ventricles). This part of the two-part pumping phase (the longer of the two) is called the diastole.

The second part of the pumping phase begins when the ventricles are full of blood. The electrical signals from the SA node travel along a pathway of cells to the ventricles, causing them to contract. This is called systole. As the tricuspid and mitral valves shut tight to prevent a back flow of blood, the pulmonary and aortic valves are pushed open. While blood is pushed from the right ventricle into the lungs to pick up oxygen, oxygen-rich blood flows from the left ventricle to the heart and other parts of the body.

After blood moves into the pulmonary artery and the aorta, the ventricles relax, and the pulmonary and aortic valves close. The lower pressure in the ventricles causes the tricuspid and mitral valves to open, and the cycle begins again. This series of contractions is repeated over and over again, increasing during times of exertion and decreasing while you are at rest.  


ANATOMY OF THE HEART


The human heart is primarily a shell. There are four cavities, or open spaces, inside the heart that fill with blood. Two of these cavities are called atria. The other two are called ventricles. The two atria form the curved top of the heart. The ventricles meet at the bottom of the heart to form a pointed base which points toward the left side of your chest. The left ventricle contracts most forcefully, so you can best feel your heart pumping on the left side of your chest.

The left side of the heart houses one atrium and one ventricle. The right side of the heart houses the others. A wall, called the septum, separates the right and left sides of the heart. A valve connects each atrium to the ventricle below it. The mitral valve connects the left atrium with the left ventricle. The tricuspid valve connects the right atrium with the right ventricle.

The top of the heart connects to a few large blood vessels. The largest of these is the aorta, or main artery, which carries nutrient-rich blood away from the heart. Another important vessel is the pulmonary artery which connects the heart with the lungs as part of the pulmonary circulation system. The two largest veins that carry blood into the heart are the superior vena cava and the inferior vena cava. They are called "vena cava" because they are the "heart's veins." The superior is located near the top of the heart. The inferior is located beneath the superior.

The heart's structure makes it an efficient, never-ceasing pump. From the moment of development through the moment of death, the heart pumps. The heart, therefore, has to be strong. The average heart's muscle, called cardiac muscle, contracts and relaxes about 70 to 80 times per minute without you ever having to think about it. As the cardiac muscle contracts it pushes blood through the chambers and into the vessels. Nerves connected to the heart regulate the speed with which the muscle contracts. When you run, your heart pumps more quickly. When you sleep, your heart pumps more slowly.

Considering how much work it has to do, the heart is surprisingly small. The average adult heart is about the size of a clenched fist and weighs about 11 ounces (310 grams). Located in the middle of the chest behind the breastbone, between the lungs, the heart rests in a moistened chamber called the pericardial cavity which is surrounded by the ribcage. The diaphragm, a tough layer of muscle, lies below. As a result, the heart is well protected.




 
 
 
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