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Heart Basics

Posted by Laura Bolton RPN on February 10, 2017 at 8:35 PM

The human body is an incredible thing – bones heal after breaks, the lungs exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide, the female body can create new life – it’s like magic. However, too often, we tend to forget to take care of our body. With February being heart month, let's take a little time to talk about this amazing organ works and what can happen to it. In order to understand some of the heart complications, a basic understanding of the cardiovascular system is needed.


Our cardiovascular system is comprised of our heart, arteries, veins and capillaries. The heart is responsible for pumping the blood around our body, the arteries carry blood away from the heart, the veins carry blood to the heart and the capillaries connect the arteries and veins together.


The human heart is located in the center of the chest, between the 2 lungs. An adult heart is approximately 12 centimeters from top to bottom, about the size of your fist. Crazy right? Imagine, something the size of your fist is responsible from pumping blood throughout your entire body!?!


The heart is divided into 4 chambers – 2 upper and 2 lower chambers. The upper chambers are known as the right atrium and left atrium. The lower chambers are known as the right and left ventricle.

As I mentioned earlier, the heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. So how exactly does it do that? Good question.


Blood enters into the right atrium - here the blood is known as unoxygenated blood (blood without oxygen). The blood then gets pumped through a valve and into the right ventricle. From here, the blood is pumped ‘into’ the lungs to become oxygenated (with oxygen). Once the blood is oxygenated, it enters into the left atrium, pumped through a valve into the left ventricle then pumped throughout the body. This cycles continues throughout our lifespan. As the blood goes through our bodies, it delivers oxygen and nutrients to every part of the body.


When our cardiovascular system begins to fail, we can experience a wide variety of complications - some can be controlled, but sometimes they can't. My philosophy is prevention is key. Learning how to care for your body while it is still healthy can help you care for your body when our body starts to deteriorate.


So, how do we care for this little organ? Stay tuned for some more blog posts.


By Laura Bolton RPN

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