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How Does the Heart Pump Blood?

Chandrashekhar Lankeshwar Sep 30, 2018
The heart is like a versatile motor pump that draws water, only more efficient and stronger. To know more about how the heart pumps blood and how to care for the heart, read on.

The Electric Heart!

Willem Einthoven, a physiologist, invented the electrocardiograph in the year 1903, which measures the electric current in the human heart.
Heart is the most important organ in the human body. It is a little larger than your fist, and is located to the left of the middle of the chest.
It is nothing but a pump, composed of muscles which pump blood to each and every part of the body. It carries all the vital oxygen and necessary minerals, which help our body to function in a proper way and also throws out the waste products which we don't need.
For example, the brain needs continuous supply of oxygen and glucose. If it is not supplied properly, the brain loses consciousness. In the same way muscles also need glucose, oxygen and amino acids, as well as the right proportion of sodium, calcium, potassium salts in order to function properly.
So, if the heart has any difficulty pumping the blood through the body, it can lead to serious problems and also prove fatal.

Human Heart Wall

Our heart is surrounded by three layers and they are:

  • Endocardium- the innermost thin lining of the heart
  • Myocardium- a thick muscular wall of specialized cells
  • Pericardium- an outer fluid-filled thin sac

How the Heart Pumps Blood...

The heart is the center of the circulatory system, which works to ensure a steady supply of essential nutrients throughout the body. It consists of network of blood vessels that carry blood to every cell. Heart works like a pumping machine. It continuously provides blood through the circulatory system. The heart beats about an average of 100,000 times a day.
The tubes or the blood vessels called veins and arteries carry blood to and from the heart respectively. The blood present in the heart is pumped through chambers. There are four chambers present in the heart. The two upper chambers are called the left and right atria or auricles, and the lower chambers are called left and right ventricles.
The right side of the heart receives oxygen-poor blood, which is pumped to the lungs where oxygen is inhaled and carbon dioxide is released. The left side of the heart receives the pure oxygenated blood, which is later circulated to the whole body. Therefore the left ventricle is strong and large to perform its duty to provide blood throughout the body.
The function of all the four chambers, in a continuous and well-coordinated manner is very important for a healthy heart. Unlike other organs, during normal function the heart is not stimulated by the nervous system. Its function is controlled by two impulse-generating tissues, situated in the heart itself, known as sinoatrial node and atrioventricular node.
However, heart rate is controlled by the medulla oblongata, which also controls other involuntary bodily functions, such as digestion and perspiration. The chamber muscles relax to fill in the blood and then contract to pump the blood through the body.
When the muscles contract, the valves open up to allow the blood to flow from the right atrium to right ventricle and from the left atrium to left ventricle. When the valves relax they close to prevent the blood from flowing backwards. This is the process carried out by the heart to pump the blood throughout the body.

An Artificial Heart

When it comes an artificial heart, there have been a lot of improvements through all these years. Earlier patients were connected to a large, immobile pump, which limited them to move around. Today, the pump can be carried along in a backpack. It can also be implanted in the chest of the patient to support the original heart or replace a failing one.
When an artificial heart is implanted for temporary period, it is removed once the original heart recovers from damage. It is called the Ventricular Assist Device (VAD). When there is a permanent muscle damage done to your heart and there are no chances of its recovery, an artificial heart can help till the patient undergoes a heart transplant.
Furthermore, if there are no treatment options available, an artificial heart can stay with the patient for the lifetime, which is called Total Artificial Heart.

How Does It Work?

The difference between an artificial heart and an original heart functioning is the process of blood flow. While a normal heart forces the blood to both ventricles at one time, an artificial heart is able to force the blood only to one ventricle at a time. So it will first send blood to the lungs and then to the body instead of doing it at the same time.
Now, when does a person needs an artificial heart? Well, the need for transplanting an artificial heart arises when both sides of the heart are unable to pump enough blood and the vital organs like the kidneys, brain and liver are starving without blood.
There are two ways to treat this condition, one to perform an immediate donor heart transplant surgery or the one mentioned above i.e., a temporary total artificial heart transplant. This is the only device that provides immediate safe blood flow to the important organs and makes them active.

Ways to a Healthy Heart

How can you keep your heart pumping normally throughout life? For that be active; doing brisk physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help in maintaining your heart's health. Keep a check on your diet and follow healthy way of eating. Eat more vegetables and fruits, grain products and lower the amount of fat you eat.
Avoid smoking completely or at least reduce and also make sure that you avoid passive smoking, which can have an adverse effect on the heart. Stress is directly related to the functioning of the heart, there are many ways to manage stress such as, getting enough sleep, meditation, eating healthy, physical activity, listening to music and talking to someone.
It has been observed that people get into unhealthy ways to tackle stress like taking drugs, letting out anger by yelling and screaming at others, drinking too much alcohol and eating excessively. Keep away from these unhealthy ways.
Do a physical check up on yearly basis and ask your doctor to keep a track of your blood pressure. These are some of the ways you can learn to keep your heart pumping faithfully and perfectly throughout your life.