Without doubt, the most important organ in the human body is the heart.
For only being about the size of a clenched fist, it sure does a lot of work. It makes sure that all the other organs and muscles are in good working order by providing a good, healthy, oxygenated stream of blood.
And we must look after it.
Beating at approximately 70 times a minute; blood leaves the right side of the heart and enters your lungs to pick up oxygen through the pulmonary alveoli.
Oxygen-rich blood then returns to the heart and is fed to the rest of your organs via a network of arteries. Once the blood has passed through your body it returns to your heart before being pumped back to your lungs again. This process is called circulation.
The heart is split into four chambers;
- two atria: which draw blood in from the body via the veins to the heart.
- two ventricles: which pump the blood out and away from the heart through our arteries.
Inside the arteries and veins are valves which prevent blood from flowing backwards and in the wrong direction.
Arteries have thick muscular walls as the blood travels under high pressure and quickly away from the heart to the organs and muscles, this speed and pressure is amplified when you are doing exercise or a sporting activity.
Blood which travels within the arteries is always oxygenated, apart from the pulmonary artery which transports blood to the lungs to collect the oxygen before being sent through the body.
Veins throughout the body carry blood back to the heart once it has travelled through our organs, and as there is very little pressure the vein walls are thinner.
The blood is mostly de-oxygenated as the arteries have fed the oxygen to the capillaries and filtered through to the veins. However the pulmonary vein is oxygenated as it travels through to the heart via the lungs, picking up oxygen as it does.
Capillaries are the smallest and last place that blood passes and they act as the joining between the arteries and the veins in the blood cycle.
They are extremely thin and fragile and this is where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs through the capillary walls. Capillaries are also integral in helping the body release excess heat during exercise and strenuous activity.
When your blood temperature rises, the capillaries assist in releasing heat through the skin tissue, resulting in your skin becoming flushed and red in colour.
Regular exercise is massively beneficial to the heart; benefits include:
- the increasing in size and strength of the muscle
- boosting the amount of blood pumped by heart in one minute (the cardiac output).
- lower the heart resting rate
- improve recovery rate
- reducing the risk of heart disease.
For more information regarding the heart, defibrillators, cardiac arrest and everything in between, be sure to keep an eye on our blog page for more posts throughout National Heart Month.
We have also revamped our FAQ page which is packed full of useful information regarding the heart and cardiac arrest which you might find useful.