The heart is one of the most fascinating organs of the human body. It starts beating when we are still in our mother’s womb and continues to do so till our last breath. It works tirelessly to pump life giving blood to all parts of our body. Did you know that our heart beats about 100,000 times in a day and over 2.5 billion times in a 70 year lifetime!
Just as the case of any machine, our heart will fail to function properly if we do not take proper care of it. In order to keep our heart healthy, it is necessary that we have an idea about how our heart manages to do this wonderful feat of constantly pumping blood. So, lets go on a guided tour to unravel the mysteries of our heart and understand how it functions.
Our heart is located in the chest between the two lungs and slightly to the left. It is well protected by the rib cage. It’s about the size of our clenched fist and weighs about 300 grams. It beat about 60-100 times a minute.
Structure of our heart
- Right Atrium
- Right Ventricle
- Left Atrium
- Left Ventricle
Also our heart has 4 valves – the tricuspid valve (having 3 flaps) and the mitral valve (having 2 flaps – just like a bishop’s mitre), pulmonary valve and aortic valve. Just as in other pumps, these valves allow flow of blood in only one direction – i.e., from the atria to the ventricle and from ventricle to aorta/ pulmonary artery and prevents the backflow of blood.
Blood flow through the heart
The blood from various parts of our body other than the lungs are brought to our heart through 2 large veins – superior vena cava and the inferior vena cava. These bring blood to the right atrium – the upper right chamber. From here, the blood passes to the right ventricle through the tricuspid valve. It is then pumped into the lungs via the pulmonary artery(pulmonary = related to the lungs). In the lungs, the oxygen we inhale is mixed with the blood and the carbon dioxide in the blood is removed. After this the blood passes to the left atrium and then to the left ventricle through the mitral valve. Finally, the blood is pumped to the different parts our body through the aorta – the largest artery of our body.