Heart Functions, Heart Diseases and Structure with Diagram

February 1, 2020

Heart Definition – What Is Heart?

A simple answer to "What is heart and the heart functions" is that it is the main organ of your body's circulatory system, pumping blood throughout the body. According to the heart definition, you can call it a muscular pump which contracts at regular intervals in order to squeeze the blood through it into the blood vessels.

In this article, in addition to the heart functions, you’ll also come across some really interesting facts about it.

Human Heart Diagram:

What is Heart

As you can see in the human heart diagram, there are four chambers in this tireless pumping organ. All the chambers work in coordination for the successful execution of different heart functions. The right chambers contain unclean or the deoxygenated blood. On the other hand, the left chambers contain clean or the oxygenated blood. Just look at the different parts of heart to get a better understanding of the heart functions.

Heart Structure:

Talking of the heart structure, it is made up of connective tissue and cardiac muscles. The latter is a type of involuntary muscle, that is, it contracts and relaxes on its own without requiring you to deliberately apply force. Your heart is a delicate organ. Any damage to it will cause disturbance in the heart functions. So, it gets protection from the rib cage.

Concerning shape, it looks like a cone. The base of this cone is positioned upward which gradually tapers down to the apex. The pumping organ is roughly the size of a wrist, while measuring 12 cm, 8 cm and 6 cm along length, width and thickness, respectively.

The effect of exercise on the muscles of the heart organ is the same as shown by the skeletal muscles. That is, as an outcome of exercise, they grow both in size and strength. That is why, the well-trained athletes usually have much larger hearts. Such a thing also makes the heart functions better.

The Heart Functions:

The knowledge about heart function and structure is important for those who want to maintain and enjoy cardiac health. The heart functions involve the supply of oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. The circulatory system consists of three main types of blood vessels: arteries, veins and capillaries.

Arteries carry oxygenated blood and distribute it to different parts of the body. On the other hand, the veins receive unclean blood, containing carbon dioxide and waste products, from the body parts and take it back to the heart.

The heart contains both the oxygenated and deoxygenated blood. It is its job to keep both of them separate in order to avoid contamination of the pure blood. The right chambers of the heart receive blood, devoid of oxygen, from the veins. This blood then goes to the lungs to receive oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.

Afterwards, this oxygen-rich blood goes back to the heart from where it reaches all the body parts through the arteries. In this way, every individual cell is able to get oxygen. This oxygen will assist in the process of extracting energy from food. Read on to get a bit detailed explanation of “How does the heart function?”

How Heart Works?

Heart Functions - How Heart Works

In order to understand how the heart works, it is important to know about its main parts. There are four chambers in the heart; the top chambers are atria while the chambers below them are ventricles. As many as four valves control the flow of blood into and out of the heart.

A double-walled membrane, the pericardium, separates the right and left chambers, preventing oxygen-rich blood from mixing up with the one without oxygen. So, the heart functions go smoothly.

Deoxygenated blood enters the right atrium. The valve present between the right atrium and the right ventricle is the tricuspid valve. It opens to let the blood flow into the right ventricle. The valve then closes to prevent the backward flow of blood.

This deoxygenated blood enters the pulmonary artery and moves to the lungs to replenish its oxygen content. This oxygen-rich blood them comes back to the heart through the pulmonary vein. The right atrium receives this oxygenated blood.

The mitral valve between the right atrium and the right ventricle opens to let the blood flow into the right ventricle. It then closes to prevent the backward flow of blood. Finally, there is pumping of the blood into the aorta from where it is distributed to the rest of the body through the arteries. So, you can say that main function of the heart is to supply all the body cells with oxygen and nutrients through the circulation of blood.

Function of the Blood and Blood Vessels:

If you have a bit of knowledge about the circulatory system, it would be clear to your that the function of the blood is to serve as a circulatory fluid. The blood carries the respiratory gases and nutrients to every individual cell in the body. On its return, it brings carbon dioxide – a waste respiratory gas – for its discharge out of the body.

On the other hand, the function of blood vessels is to serve as a passage for the blood to flow. The blood vessels are of three types. They are: arteries, veins and capillaries. It is the capillaries where the exchange of gases and nutrients takes place with the individual cells.

The Human Heart Facts

Here are some of the human heart facts which will add a lot to the existing pool of your knowledge about the tireless pumping organ.

  • The average rate of your heart beat is 72 times per minute. In one day, the heart beats over a hundred thousand times!
  • An average heart has the ability to pump around two thousand gallons of blood throughout the body every day.
  • The heart can continue to beat for a while even if you separate it from the body as long as there is a supply of oxygen. Isn’t it something really amazing about the heart functions?
    • The heart muscles are able to contract due to electrical impulses.
    • In response to exercise, the cardiac muscles tend to grow in size as well as strength. This is the very reason that the hearts of athletes are much larger.

Diseases of the Heart

Coronary Artery Disease

The blood vessels which transport blood to the heart become narrow due to a deposition of plaque, forcing the heart to work harder. As a result, the heart muscles gradually become weak. This is a fatal disease which is the result of a high blood cholesterol level.

Myocardial Infarction

It is one of most dangerous heart diseases. More commonly known as heart attack, myocardial infarction may lead to death on the spot if the individual in unable to get prompt medical help. A heart attack more commonly occurs in patients who are already suffering from coronary artery disease.

The flow of blood to the heart is either reduces or there is complete blockage, depriving the heart cells of oxygen. As a result, all the heart functions come to an end.

Congestive Heart Failure

It is a common heart disease which develops as a result of coronary artery disease or a heart attack. The heart of the patient suffers from damage and is unable to perform the heart functions up to its full capacity. As a result, insufficient blood is pumped and the body's oxygen requirements are not fulfilled. The patients experience fatigue and shortness of breath.