You have a wonderful heart

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

What beats 100,000 times and pumps 2,000 gallons of blood every single day? You guessed it, your heart.

Why does it move all the blood around? The heart pumps blood through your circulatory system – your blood vessels – to carry the oxygen you breathe into your lungs, take unhealthy waste away from your body, and help nutrients from food and drink get around. It’s like a super highway through your body, making sure all the healthy deliveries get to where they’re needed and picking up the trash along the way.

heart diagramAs far as your blood vessels, there’s three kinds. Arteries, starting with the heart’s “aorta”, are the biggest, carrying oxygen-rich blood to your body’s tissues. Capillaries are little blood vessels that connect your arteries to your veins. Veins are what takes blood back to the heart to start the whole process again. So, it’s one big maze of arteries, capillaries, and veins, like freeways, streets, and alleys.

The heart itself is made of four chambers, divided into the left and right side by a wall of muscle called the “septum”. Each side is divided again into two top chambers, called the “atria”, which receive blood from the veins, and two bottom chambers, called “ventricles”, which pump that blood into the arteries. These upper and bottom parts work together, contracting – tightening up – and relaxing to pump blood into and out of the heart. The right and left sides also work together: oxygen-poor blood enters the right side to be sent to the lungs for oxygen, and then oxygen-rich blood enters the left side to be sent to the rest of the body.

What exactly powers the upper atria chambers and lower ventricle chambers? Electrical impulses! Your heart actually creates electricity in a little something called the “sinotrial node”. Zap!

It’s truly amazing how powerful and complicated your heart can be, isn’t it? If you want, you can learn more about your incredible heart.