Physiology of the Human Heart

Physiology of the Human Heart

The human heart, both physically and spiritually, is one of the most amazing creations in the universe.  As such, it's sad to me that the heart is also the leading cause of so many deaths in this country.  Of the 2 million or so deaths every year about 750,000 of them will have something to do with your cardiovascular system. From the time we are in our mother's womb until we take our last breath our heart, our most important muscle, tirelessly pumps. About the size of a fist, the average human heart weighs between seven and ten ounces.  The heart is encased and protected by your rib cage, spinal column, and sternum.  The following three layers make up the outer wall of the heart:

  1. The outer layer is the epicardium or visceral pericardium since it is also the inner wall of the pericardium.
  2. The middle layer is the myocardium.  It is composed of cardiac muscle and is what contracts.
  3. The inner layer is the endocardium.  It is in contact with the blood that the heart pumps.  It also merges with the inner lining (the endothelium) of blood vessels and covers the heart valves.

The human heart is hollow; four chambered muscle.  The right side of the heart, otherwise known as the right atrium and ventricle, receives used blood from the body.  The right atrium then passes the blood to the right ventricle.   The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs.  In the lungs, the blood leaves behind its carbon dioxide and collects fresh oxygen.  It is then pumped through the pulmonary valve to the pulmonary arteries and into the lungs, where it becomes oxygenated. That rich oxygenated blood then leaves the lungs through the pulmonary veins and goes into the left atrium.  From there it is pumped through the mitral valve into the left ventricle, then on to the aorta through the aortic valve.  The oxygenated blood long journey isn’t over yet; it is pumped to every other organ in the body, except the lungs. With each beat of your heart your skin, brain, spleen, kidneys, muscles, etc. are all getting oxygen.  Your heart's sole job is to push blood through your circulatory system, even back to itself via the coronary system of veins and arteries to provide oxygen to the myocardial muscle, so it can keep beating. Your heart is a real workhorse!

Steps we can take to protect our hearts and avoid heart problems:

Heart Health isn't as complicated as we make it out to be.  Here are a few simple things we can do to increase our health and hopefully avoid many of the heart problems we have previously discussed starting today:

  1. Balance your Blood Sugars - The heart is a muscle, and it contracts on average 70 times a minute 24 hours a day, EVERY DAY of your life.  If it skips even one beat, you usually know right away.  This muscle requires a steady stream of high-quality fuel.  If you're constantly spiking and crashing your blood sugar with processed and refined carbohydrates and foods, it's no wonder heart disease, and dysfunction could be right around the corner.  The solution is to balance your blood sugar by eating protein with non-starchy vegetables, getting rid of grains, and limiting fruit.
  2. Move - It can be as simple as getting out to walk. If you're just starting, you should be doing very low intensity around 60-65% of your max heart rate.  Take 180 - (your age) - 5-10 (depending on your health) = the number to not go above! Then subtract another ten from that number, and that gives you the range you need to be in for about 15-45 minutes, 3-6 days per week
  3. Move part 2 -  After you have done the above for six weeks to 3 months, developed a great aerobic base, and eaten clean that whole time, it's time to introduce high-intensity exercise. The solution can be as easy as doing as many push ups and squats as you can and jump roping for 40 seconds each and resting in between each one for a minute.
  4. Play once a week - Find a hobby that is active and do it at least once a week. It can be anything from a Martial Art to rock climbing. is a great site that can help you find activity groups that you can connect with, and include pretty much anything.
  5. Meditate and pray - It doesn't matter what you believe, etc., what's important is that you're present and mindful.  Most importantly, be grateful that you're here and alive, and you have the ability to experience life!

No, taking care of your heart isn't an easy task.  In fact, I can personally tell you the high-intensity stuff just might kick your ass.  However, when you follow even just a few of my recommendations above, your health will increase, which decreases the risk of heart problems.

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