Anatomy and Workings of the Heart
In order to understand the disease process of the heart it is important we first take a look at the basic anatomy of the heart and how it functions ie the anatomy and workings of the heart.
Your heart is about the size of your fist. It is located beneath the sternum (which is your breastbone), and sits on top of the diaphragm, which is the main muscle of breathing.
The heart is the most important muscle in your body. There are two sides, the right and left, and four chambers. The two upper chambers are called atria. The two lower chambers on either side are called the ventricles. A muscular wall called the septum separates the two sides down the middle.
Your heart also has important valves, which ensure a one-way flow of blood through the chambers and blood vessels.
Right & Left side of the Heart
The right side of the heart receives blood from the body and transports it to the lungs
The left side receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it throughout the entire body
The myocardium makes up the bulk of the heart. It is responsible for the pumping of blood throughout the heart and body.
The blood is pumped through your body through our blood vessels. Blood vessels work as a delivery system, transporting blood throughout our entire body. There are three types of blood vessels:
- Arteries: Arteries carry oxygen rich blood away from the heart
- Capillaries: Exchange vessels that connect arteries to veins
- Veins: Veins carry de-oxygenated blood towards the heart
The Heart’s Electrical System
Your heart also has its own electrical system that coordinates the work of the heart chambers (heart rhythm) and also controls the frequency of beats (heart rate).
Problems with this electrical system can cause an arrhythmia, which means that your heart chambers are beating in an uncoordinated or random way or that your heart is beating too fast (tachycardia) or too slow (bradycardia).
Like any other good muscle, the heart needs a good blood supply to ensure it works effectively
The coronary arteries take blood to the heart muscle.
These are the first arteries to branch off the large artery (aorta) which takes blood to the body from the left ventricle.
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