The human heart is an organ that pumps blood throughout the body via the circulatory system.

Human heart anatomy
In humans, the heart is roughly the size of a large fist and weighs between 9 and 12 ounces (250 and 350 grams). It has four chambers: two upper chambers (the atria) and two lower ones (the ventricles). The right atrium and right ventricle together make up the "right heart," and the left atrium and left ventricle make up the "left heart." A wall of muscle called the septum separates the two sides of the heart.

The human heart is about the size of a fist. Credit: tlorna |Shutterstock View full size image

A double-walled sac called the pericardium encases the heart, which serves to protect the heart and anchor it inside the chest. Between the outer layer, the parietal pericardium, and the inner layer, the serous pericardium, runs pericardial fluid, which lubricates the heart during contractions and movements of the lungs and diaphragm. The heart's outer wall consists of three layers. The outermost wall layer, or epicardium, is the inner wall of the pericardium. The middle layer, or myocardium, contains the muscle that contracts. The inner layer, or endocardium, is the lining that contacts the blood. The tricuspid valve and the mitral valve make up the atrioventricular (AV) valves, which connect the atria and the ventricles. The pulmonary semi-lunar valve separates the left ventricle from the pulmonary artery, and the aortic valve separates the right ventricle from the aorta. The heartstrings, or chordae tendinae, anchor the valves to heart muscles. The sinoatrial node produces the electrical pulses that drive heart contractions.

Human heart function
The heart circulates blood through two pathways: the pulmonary circuit and the systemic circuit.

In the first stage (early diastole). The cardiovascular system circulates blood from the heart to the lungs and around the body via blood vessels. the heart is relaxed. Deoxygenated blood returns via veins to the venae cavae. then returns as oxygenated blood to the left atrium of the heart via the pulmonary vein. and from there enters the arteries and capillaries where it supplies the body's tissues with oxygen. Finally. Then the atrium contracts (atrial systole) to push blood into the ventricle. Next. usually pointing slightly left     . deoxygenated blood leaves the right ventricle of the heart via the pulmonary artery and travels to the lungs. Then the cycle repeats. the ventricles start contracting without changing volume. Facts about the human heart        A human heart is roughly the size of a large fist The heart weighs between 9 and 12 ounces (250 and 350 grams) The heart beats about 100. Electrical "pacemaker" cells cause the heart to contract. reentering the heart's right atrium. Credit: The BioDigital HumanTM developed by NYU School of Medicine and BioDigital Systems LLC View full size image In the systemic circuit. which happens in five stages. oxygenated blood leaves the body via the left ventricle to the aorta.In the pulmonary circuit.7 liters) of blood throughout the body The heart is located in the center of the chest. keeping the blood flowing in one direction through the heart. the ventricles stop contracting and relax. Valves prevent backflow. Then the ventricles continue contracting while empty. about 70 -190 beats per minute The heart pumps about 6 quarts (5.000 times per day (about three billion beats in a lifetime) An adult heart beats about 60 to 80 times per minute Newborns hearts beat faster than adult hearts.

as well as the proper ratio of sodium.The Human Heart The heart is one of the most important organs in the entire human body. It is really nothing more than a pump. composed of muscle which pumps blood throughout the body. Muscles need oxygen. beating approximately 72 times per minute of our lives. . which carries all the vital materials which help our bodies function and removes the waste products that we do not need. The glands need sufficient supplies of raw materials from which to manufacture the specific secretions. The heart pumps the blood. if not received continuously. the brain requires oxygen and glucose. which. glucose and amino acids. will cause it to loose consciousness. If the heart ever ceases to pump blood the body begins to shut down and after a very short period of time will die. calcium and potassium salts in order to contract normally. For example.

as it is called. however. There are two upper chambers. Like any other muscle in the human body. but has thicker walls. which originates from the left ventricle. having very thin walls. It is smaller than the right atrium. That is. The right ventricle pumps the blood to the lungs to be reoxygenated. the principle of "gradation" is present. The pumping of the heart is called the Cardiac Cycle. which occurs about 72 times per minute. It is the Aorta. which only allows the blood to flow from the atria into the ventricle. while the cavity is divided into four parts. each time the heart contracts it does so with all its force. respectively. The left atrium receives blood from the lungs via the four pulmonary veins. In skeletal muscles. During this cycle the entire heart actually rests for about four-tenths of a second. The valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle.The heart is essentially a muscle(a little larger than the fist). The walls of the heart are made up of three layers. it contracts and expands. called the right and leftatria. This means that each cycle lasts about eight-tenths of a second. Unlike skeletal muscles. called the right and left ventricles. It opens into the left ventricle and again is a one way valve. receives blood from the upper and lower body through the superior vena cava and the inferior vena cava. The Right Atrium. The right atrium opens into the right ventricle through the right atrioventicular valve(tricuspid). Make-up of the Heart. the heart works on the "All -or-Nothing Law". is smaller than the tricuspid. The right atrium is the larger of the two atria. and from the heart muscle itself through the coronary sinus. The left ventricle pumps the blood throughout the body. and two lower chambers. the left atrioventicular valve(bicuspid). but not in the reverse direction. . the largest artery in the body.

In a trained athlete the total cardiac output is about 20 litres. In a trained athlete this amount is about double. that is blood that has already been to the cells and has given up its nutrients to them. or about 10 litres total per minute. and then sent to the lungs to be reoxygenated. If we multiply the normal. With the average heart rate of 72 beats per minute the heart will pump about 5 litres per ventricle. or about 250. Used blood. It is the atria that draw the blood from the lungs and body.000 gallons(US)!     . Blood that has been reoxygenated by the lungs is drawn into the left side of the heart and then pumped into the blood stream.  The Heart works as a pump moving blood around in our bodies to nourish every cell. and the ventricles that pump it to the lungs and body. or about 2 tablespoons. is drawn from the body by the right half of the heart. non-athlete output by the average age of 70 years. The output of each ventricle per beat is about 70 ml. This is called the cardiac output. we see that the cardiac output of the average human heart over a life time would be about 1 million litres.

it is made up of a muscle different from skeletal muscle that allows it to constantly beat. In this way. the heart beats approximately two to three billion times and pumps 50 to 65 million gallons of blood. Top The Heartbeat The heartbeat is made up of systole and diastole. . which are the two stages of a heartbeat.000 to 100. In order for the heart to deliver oxygenated blood to all cells. In order to achieve its goal. which then are oxygenated.Heart Basics Function of the Heart Introduction The role of the heart is to pump oxygen-rich blood to every living cell in the body.000 gallons of blood. a continuous cycle is formed of the heart pumping oxygenated blood and deoxygenated blood out to their designated destinations. blood is pumped through arteries.000 a day and pumps almost 2. Because of its vital role. The human heart beats approximately 80. it must continuously beat for a person’s entire lifespan. Veins bring deoxygenated blood cells to the lungs. a non-beating heart always results in death. Because the heart is so essential for human sustenance. This means that in a person’s life lasting 70 to 90 years. Systole: Stage when the ventricles of heart are contracting resulting in blood being pumped out to the lungs and the rest of the body. and then sent back to heart. and therefore the heart maintains the circulatory system.

 Blood is pumped from the right atrium down into the right ventricle and from the left atrium down into the left ventricle. muscular walls of both ventricles relax. the atria are filled with blood and pump blood into the ventricles. Therefore. Pressure rises in both ventricles. the upper chambers (atria) contract at the same time. Thick. A muscular wall called the septum separates the right and left sides of the heart.Thick. Each of the chambers has valves. pushing blood down into the lower chambers (ventricles).5oz (300g). The heart is the most important organ in our body. The heart is divided into four chambers: the right atrium and left atrium are the upper chambers of the heart the right ventricle and left ventricle are the lower chambers.   Diastole: Stage when the ventricles of the heart are relaxed and not contracting.  . responsible for circulating blood. During this stage. Their purpose is to allow blood to move forwards through the heart and to prevent it flowing backwards into the previous chamber. and blood is forced into the ventricles.  In the second stage. the lower chambers contract to push this blood out of the heart to either the body via your main artery (aorta) or to the lungs to pick up oxygen. In the first stage.  The atria relax during this time. Every heart is made up of three layers: an inner lining called the endocardium a middle layer of muscle called the myocardium an outer fluid-filled sac known as the pericardium. cone-shaped muscle that's about the size of an adult fist and usually found to the left of our breastbone. muscular walls of both ventricles contract. The atria contract. Parts of the heart Did you know? The average weight of a healthy female human heart is 9oz (255g). blood is forced up the aorta and the pulmonary artery.          How does the heart work? The heart muscle contracts in two stages to squeeze blood out of the heart. therefore the semi-lunar valves close. This is known as systole. GP 127 What is the heart? The heart is a hollow. causing the bicuspid and tricuspid valves to close. A man's heart is usually slightly bigger at around 10. Pressure in both ventricles falls low enough for bicuspid valves to open.    How the heart works Written by Dr Roger Henderson. oxygen and nutrients around the body. and the right atrium from the vena cava. The left atrium receives blood from the pulmonary vein. It is basically a complex pump.  The blood pressure in the aorta is decreased. expanding them. The valves have different names: the tricuspid valve is at the exit of the right atrium the mitral valve is for the left atrium the pulmonary valve is at the exit of the right ventricle the aortic valve is at the exit of the left ventricle.

The largest natural pacemaker of the heart is called the sinoatrial or SA node and is found in the right atrium. This is due to the valves of the upper chambers closing. is repeated. the upper chamber fills with oxygen-depleted blood from your body and pushes it via the lower chamber and the pulmonary artery back to the lungs. This is pumped via the lower chamber into the aorta and out to the body to provide cells with the crucial oxygen they need. . What can go wrong? Problems can arise in any part of heart – from the muscle walls (cardiomyopathy) and valves (heart valve disease) to problems with the pacemaker (irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia) and blood supply. The sound of the heart is often described as 'lub-dub'. most people have a heart rate of around 72 beats per minute at rest. specialised groups of cells that carry the electrical charge lead off to the rest of the heart. exertion and general health. Taking your pulse Your pulse can usually be felt at the wrist just below the level of the bottom of the thumb. The first heart sound (lub) is caused by the movement of blood through the heart and its vibration. From it. the upper chamber fills with oxygen-rich blood from the lungs.   On the right side. The second heart sound (dub) is caused by the same movement of blood. The different sides of the heart have different functions. What makes the heart beat? On average. Here blood picks up oxygen and releases carbon dioxide.a group of cells in the heart that have the ability to generate electrical activity. How does the doctor check the heartbeat? Your doctor usually checks your heartbeat in two ways. Blood fills up the heart again. which takes a fraction of a second. Use your forefinger and middle finger of the other hand and gently press on this area .The heart then relaxes – known as diastole. age. Using a stethoscope Your doctor may listen to the heart with a stethoscope. and the whole process. They cause electrical impulses to spread over the heart and make it will feel the pulse beating. but this time vibrations are linked to the closing of the valves in the lower chambers. Each heart beat is triggered by an electrical pacemaker . This varies according to fitness. Your doctor will check for its speed and consistency. On the left side.

Pericardium is a type of serous membrane that produces serous fluid to lubricate the heart and prevent friction between the ever beating heart and its surrounding organs. the base of the heart is attached to the aorta. it's known as unstable angina. The walls and lining of the pericardial cavity are a special membrane known as the pericardium. it causes a heart attack. often causing death before the person reaches hospital. . rests just superior to the diaphragm. Heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK.. Epicardium. the pericardium serves to hold the heart in position and maintain a hollow space for the heart to expand into when it is full. that artery cannot then supply enough blood to the heart muscle to meet its needs during exertion or activity. Because the heart points to the left. pulmonary arteries and veins.  . Anatomy of the Heart  Pericardium The heart sits within a fluid-filled cavity called the pericardial cavity.. The epicardium is the outermost layer of the heart wall and is just another name for the visceral layer of the pericardium. Depending on which part of the heart muscle is affected and the severity of damage to the heart muscle. and the vena cava. so that chest pains start to happen more easily and with less exertion. Thus. causing chest pain. Myocardium. [Continued from above] . Heart The heart is a muscular organ about the size of a closed fist that functions as the body’s circulatory pump. Besides lubrication. The pericardium has 2 layers—a visceral layer that covers the outside of the heart and a parietal layer that forms a sac around the outside of the pericardial cavity. The myocardium is the muscular middle layer of the heart wall that contains the cardiac muscle tissue. The inferior tip of the heart. The muscle ‘cramps’. about 2/3 of the heart’s mass is found on the left side of the body and the other 1/3 is on the right. The base of the heart is located along the body’s midline with the apex pointing toward the left side. The heart is located in the thoracic cavity medial to the lungs and posterior to the sternum. . Structure of the Heart Wall The heart wall is made of 3 layers: epicardium. This requires increasing levels of heart medication or active surgical intervention such as an angioplasty or heart bypass surgery. On its superior end. thicker layer of the heart wall: the myocardium. Myocardium makes up the majority of the thickness and mass of the heart wall and is the part of the heart responsible for pumping blood. known as the apex. When a coronary artery is completely blocked and no blood or oxygen reaches the heart muscle served by that artery. This is known as angina.. the epicardium is a thin layer of serous membrane that helps to lubricate and protect the outside of the heart. the effects of a heart attack can range from a good recovery to instant death. myocardium and endocardium.If a coronary artery becomes furred up or partially blocked with fatty material called atheroma. Below the myocardium is the thin endocardium layer. Below the epicardium is the second. This also causes chest pain as the heart muscle served by that artery dies. It takes in deoxygenated blood through the veins and delivers it to the lungs for oxygenation before pumping it into the various arteries (which provide oxygen and nutrients to body tissues by transporting the blood throughout the body). If the poor blood supply to the heart worsens.

The right side of the heart has less myocardium in its walls than the left side because the left side has to pump blood through the entire body while the right side only has to pump to the lungs. so named for the crescent moon shape of their cusps. To prevent blood from flowing backwards or “regurgitating” back into the heart. This difference in size between the sides of the heart is related to their functions and the size of the 2 circulatory loops. The thickness of the heart wall varies in different parts of the heart. The atria are smaller than the ventricles and have thinner. and left ventricle. The ventricles are the larger. The right side of the heart maintains pulmonary circulation to the nearby lungs while the left side of the heart pumps blood all the way to the extremities of the body in the systemic circulatory loop. The AV valve on the right side of the heart is called the tricuspid valve because it is made of three cusps (flaps) that separate to allow blood to pass through and connect to block regurgitation of blood. The AV valve on the left side of the heart is called the mitral valve or the bicuspid valve because it has two cusps. The endocardium is very smooth and is responsible for keeping blood from sticking to the inside of the heart and forming potentially deadly blood clots. Atrioventricular valves. The atria act as receiving chambers for blood. The ventricles are connected to the arteries that carry blood away from the heart.   . Valves of the Heart The heart functions by pumping blood both to the lungs and to the systems of the body. The semilunar valves. have a very thick myocardium to pump blood to the lungs or throughout the entire body. stronger pumping chambers that send blood out of the heart. so named because it prevents the backflow of blood from the pulmonary trunk into the right ventricle. Endocardium is the simple squamous endothelium layer that lines the inside of the heart. During the contraction of the ventricles. a system of one-way valves are present in the heart. The semilunar valve on the left side of the heart is theaortic valve. The AV valves are attached on the ventricular side to tough strings called chordae tendineae. The semilunar valve on the right side of the heart is the pulmonary valve. The ventricles. so they are connected to the veins that carry blood to the heart. The atria of the heart have a very thin myocardium because they do not need to pump blood very far—only to the nearby ventricles. are located between the ventricles and the arteries that carry blood away from the heart. Chambers of the Heart The heart contains 4 chambers: the right atrium. left atrium. Semilunar valves. Endocardium. named for the fact that it prevents the aorta from regurgitating blood back into the left ventricle. on the other hand. The chordae tendineae pull on the AV valves to keep them from folding backwards and allowing blood to regurgitate past them. the AV valves look like domed parachutes with the chordae tendineae acting as the ropes holding the parachutes taut. The chambers on the right side of the heart are smaller and have less myocardium in their heart wall when compared to the left side of the heart. right ventricle. The heart valves can be broken down into two types: atrioventricular and semilunar valves. The semilunar valves are smaller than the AV valves and do not have chordae tendineae to hold them in place. The atrioventricular (AV) valves are located in the middle of the heart between the atria and ventricles and only allow blood to flow from the atria into the ventricles. less muscular walls than the ventricles.

Blood pressure increases in the major arteries during ventricular systole and decreases during ventricular diastole. The AV node picks up the signal sent by the SA node and transmits it through the atrioventricular (AV) bundle. The signal from the SA node is picked up by another mass of conductive tissue known as the atrioventricular (AV) node. The AV bundle is a strand of conductive tissue that runs through the interatrial septum and into the interventricular septum. the cardiac muscle cells relax to allow the chamber to fill with blood. Conduction System of the Heart The heart is able to both set its own rhythm and to conduct the signals necessary to maintain and coordinate this rhythm throughout its structures. and relaxation. Ventricular systole: During ventricular systole. The pressure of the ventricles forces the semilunar valves to open and the AV valves to close. The atria are much smaller than the ventricles. the AV valves stay open and the semilunar valves stay closed to keep arterial blood from re-entering the heart. The ventricles remain in diastole during this phase. Physiology of the Heart  Coronary Systole and Diastole At any given time the chambers of the heart may found in one of two states: Systole. The Cardiac Cycle The cardiac cycle includes all of the events that take place during one heartbeat. To facilitate this filling. so they only fill about 25% of the ventricles during this phase. This arrangement of valves allows for blood flow from the ventricles into the arteries. For example. a blood pressure of 120/80 describes the systolic pressure (120) and the diastolic pressure (80). the atria contract and push blood into the ventricles. cardiac muscle tissue is contracting to push blood out of the chamber. There are 3 phases to the cardiac cycle: atrial systole. Branching off from the left and right bundle branches are many Purkinje fibers that carry the signal to the walls of the ventricles. stimulating the cardiac muscle cells to contract in a coordinated manner to efficiently pump blood out of the heart. During diastole. The AV node is located in the right atrium in the inferior portion of the interatrial septum. The SA node is responsible for setting the pace of the heart as a whole and directly signals the atria to contract. About 1% of the cardiac muscle cells in the heart are responsible for forming the conduction system that sets the pace for the rest of the cardiac muscle cells. The cardiac muscles of the    . This leads to the 2 numbers associated with blood pressure—systolic blood pressure is the higher number and diastolic blood pressure is the lower number.Instead. ventricular systole. During systole. the cusps of the semilunar valves are cup shaped to catch regurgitating blood and use the blood’s pressure to snap shut. Diastole. The AV bundle splits into left and right branches in the interventricular septum and continues running through the septum until they reach the apex of the heart. the ventricles contract to push blood into the aorta and pulmonary trunk. The SA node is located in the wall of the right atrium inferior to the superior vena cava. The conduction system starts with the pacemaker of the heart—a small bundle of cells known as the sinoatrial (SA) node. Atrial systole: During the atrial systole phase of the cardiac cycle.

The next part of the EKG wave is the QRS complex which features a small drop in voltage (Q) a large voltage peak (R) and another small drop in voltage (S). sharper “dupp” sound is similarly caused by the closing of the semilunar valves at the end of ventricular systole. The shorter. The final part of the EKG wave is the T wave. From the pulmonary veins. a small peak that follows the QRS complex. the AV valves open to allow blood to flow freely into the ventricles while the semilunar valves close to prevent the regurgitation of blood from the great arteries into the ventricles. The pulmonary trunk carries blood to the lungs where it releases carbon dioxide and absorbs oxygen. The EKG produces a distinctive waveform in response to the electrical changes taking place within the heart. blood enters into systemic circulation throughout the body tissues until it returns to the heart via the vena cava and the cycle repeats. the blood is pumped through the pulmonary semilunar valve into the pulmonary trunk. Variations in the waveform and distance between the waves of the EKG can be used clinically to diagnose the effects of heart attacks. The ventricles fill to about 75% capacity during this phase and will be completely filled only after the atria enter systole. The blood enters the right atrium and is pumped through the tricuspid valve into the right ventricle. these sounds repeat in a regular pattern of lubb-dupp-pause. The atria also repolarize during the QRS complex. From the aorta. is a small increase in voltage of about 0. Heart Sounds The sounds of a normal heartbeat are known as “lubb” and “dupp” and are caused by blood pushing on the valves of the heart.atria repolarize and enter the state of diastole during this phase. The “lubb” sound comes first in the heartbeat and is the longer of the two heart sounds. blood enters the heart again in the left atrium. The “lubb” sound is produced by the closing of the AV valves at the beginning of ventricular systole. The Electrocardiogram The electrocardiogram (also known as an EKG or ECG) is a non-invasive device that measures and monitors the electrical activity of the heart through the skin.  Relaxation phase: During the relaxation phase. The left ventricle pumps blood through the aortic semilunar valve into the aorta. From the right ventricle. During a normal heartbeat. all 4 chambers of the heart are in diastole as blood pours into the heart from the veins.1 mV that corresponds to the depolarization of the atria during atrial systole. congenital heart problems. but have almost no effect on the EKG because they are so much smaller than the ventricles. The cardiac muscle cells of the ventricles repolarize during this phase to prepare for the next round of depolarization and contraction. The QRS complex corresponds to the depolarization of the ventricles during ventricular systole. During this phase. The blood in the lungs returns to the heart through the pulmonary veins. The most likely causes of these . The first part of the wave. The left atrium contracts to pump blood through the bicuspid (mitral) valve into the left ventricle. Blood Flow through the Heart Deoxygenated blood returning from the body first enters the heart from the superior and inferior vena cava. The T wave represents the ventricular repolarization during the relaxation phase of the cardiac cycle. Any additional sounds such as liquid rushing or gurgling indicate a structure problem in the heart. and electrolyte imbalances. called the P wave.

com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9M959pyzatc   . Anatomy and Physiology Instructor Reference video clippings: http://www.extraneous sounds are defects in the atrial or ventricular septum or leakage in the valves. Prepared by Tim usually measured in Cardiac Output Cardiac output (CO) is the volume of blood being pumped by the heart in one minute. Heart rate is the number of heartbeats per minute.5 liters per minute at rest. The average heart can push around 5 to The equation used to find cardiac output is: CO = Stroke Volume x Heart Rate Stroke volume is the amount of blood pumped into the aorta during each ventricular http://www.