5 Amazing Facts About The Human Heart

5 Amazing Facts About The Human Heart
The heart is one of the most important organs of the body. Its primary function is to pump blood all around the body, so that different cells and tissues can receive oxygen and nutrients.
It also pumps deoxygenated blood from the general circulation to the lungs for oxygenation.
It is so important that the speed of the heart’s beat is one of the vital signs of life, and if a person’s heart stops beating, the person could die in minutes if no life-saving activity is carried out.

In this article, we would be looking at 8 awesome facts about the human heart- things that you probably didn’t know. You’ll learn these new things that will help you understand your body better.

1. The human heart is not located on the left side of the chest

No, this is not a typo. The human heart is actually not found in the left side of the chest as many people think but is located at the central part of the chest, behind the breastbone in a compartment medically called the mediastinum. Other components of this mediastinum are blood vessels and the thymus gland.

The reason why this myth about the heart location is popular is the position the heart takes up in the chest in relation to other structures around it.

The heart is shaped like a pyramid with its apex pointing towards the left and its base near the spine. So, when doctors want to hear the heartbeat clearly, they place their stethoscope device at the left side of the chest, aiming for the heart’s apex.

2. The heart beats about 42 million times every year

From when it starts beating during intrauterine life, the heart does not stop beating till a person dies. This organ keeps up its beating while you are walking, running, and even sleeping, it takes no breaks. 

At a rate of 60-100 beats every minute, the average person’s heart beats about 115,000 times a day and a shocking 42 million times every year. Also, each normal heartbeat pumps about 70 ml of blood, meaning that every year the total volume of blood pumped by the heart can fill up an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

3. The heart has its own electrical system

There is a functional electrical system in the heart that determines its routine beat and rhythm. What this means is that even though signals from the brain and other chemicals can affect how fast the heart beats, it also has its own inbuilt system that can direct the beating process.

This is why a human heart can continue to beat when removed from the chest and placed in a saline solution as long as its oxygen supply is maintained.

There are specialized cells called pacemakers that actually determine the heart rate. People with disorders that affect these cells may have an abnormal heart rhythm, palpitations, chest pain and other heart problems.

4. High blood pressure can lead to a big heart

People who have a persistently elevated blood pressure for a long time could have their heart get significantly larger.

The reason is this: the heart needs to pump blood against a higher pressure, hence there is an increased resistance against its efforts. This then causes an increase in the size of each heart muscle fiber, leading to an overall increase in heart size.

This condition is medically known as cardiomegaly and is not a good sign in people with chronic hypertension. If the blood pressure still continues to be elevated, the heart may eventually fail, leading to an inefficient movement of blood around the body, which can ultimately cause death.

People with hypertension are always advised to comply with their medical treatment, stay away from tobacco smoke (including hookah smoke), adopt a healthy diet, and maintain a healthy weight.

5. Heart cancers are very rare.

You’ve probably heard about breast cancer or lung cancer but have you ever seen anyone with heart cancer? Probably not.

It is not that it doesn’t exist at all, but they are just very rare. The reason is that while other cells divide and multiply often, heart muscle cells hardly do.

Cancers usually happen more often in organs and tissues that undergo frequent cell division, so an error in this division could make the cells get out of order, dividing without any control.

Rather than divide, each individual heart muscle cell grows in size.

Editor's remark:

This is a guest post by Dr.Charles-Davies of 25 Doctors. You too can submit yours.
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