The heart is the main organ of the circulatory system inside the rib cage in the upper chest. Heart symptoms include chest pain (heart pain), arrhythmias, palpitations, slow pulse, rapid pulse, poor circulation, high blood pressure and so on. Heart disorders include heart disease, heart failure, heart rhythm disorders, heart attack, cardiac arrest, and many others. Read more about: Heart Symptoms, Heart Disorders
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The heart is divided into four main sections called chambers. These are known as the:
- left atrium (collects blood returning from the lungs)
- left ventricle (the main pumping chamber for the body)
- right atrium (collects blood returning from the body's veins)
- right ventricle (pumps bloods to the lungs)
There are also four valves controlling how the blood flows through the heart and around the body. These are known as the:
- mitral valve (separating the left atrium from the left ventricle)
- aortic valve (separating the left ventricle from the main artery, the aorta)
- tricuspid valve (separating the right atrium from the right ventricle)
- pulmonary valve (separating the right ventricle from the pulmonary artery to the lung)
Congenital heart disease can occur if any of these chambers or valves doesn't develop properly while a baby is in the womb.
Source: NHS Choices UK1
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What Is the Heart?
Your heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood to your body. Your heart is at the center of your circulatory system. This system consists of a network of blood vessels, such as arteries, veins, and capillaries. These blood vessels carry blood to and from all areas of your body.
An electrical system controls your heart and uses electrical signals to contract the heart's walls. When the walls contract, blood is pumped into your circulatory system. Inlet and outlet valves in your heart chambers ensure that blood flows in the right direction.
Your heart is vital to your health and nearly everything that goes on in your body. Without the heart's pumping action, blood can't move throughout your body.
A healthy heart supplies your body with the right amount of blood at the rate needed to work well. If disease or injury weakens your heart, your body's organs won't receive enough blood to work normally.
Source: NHLBI (NIH)2
The heart works like a pump and beats 100,000 times a day.
The heart has two sides, separated by an inner wall called the septum. The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. The left side of the heart receives the oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it to the body.
The heart has four chambers and four valves and is connected to various blood vessels. Veins are blood vessels that carry blood from the body to the heart. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart to the body.
Source: NHLBI (NIH)3
Did you know your heart is also a muscle? It is a specialized type of involuntary muscle. It pumps blood through your body, changing its speed to keep up with the demands you put on it. It pumps more slowly when you’re sitting or lying down, and faster when you’re running or playing sports and your skeletal muscles need more blood to help them do their work.
Source: NIAMS (NIH)4
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Heart: The hollow, muscular organ that maintains the circulation of the blood.5
Anatomical Information about Heart
Your heart is a strong muscle about the size of the palm of your hand. Just like an engine makes a car go, the heart keeps your body running. The heart has two pumps. The stronger pump uses arteries to send blood with oxygen away from the heart, throughout the body. The other pump uses veins to bring blood back to the heart and sends it to the lungs to get more oxygen. An electrical system in the heart controls the heart’s pumps (the heart beat or pulse).
Source: NIA (NIH)6
Read about these related anatomy topics:
- Rib cage
- Aortic valve
- Tricuspid valve
- Pulmonary valve
- Pulmonary artery
- Blood vessels
- Skeletal muscles
Read about these related symptoms:
- Heart symptoms: The term "heart disease" refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease, which affects the blood7
... More on Heart symptoms »
- Chest Pain: Chest pain is an extremely serious symptom that will put you front of the line at emergency. Chest pain needs to be treated as a medical emergency, especially if it
... More on Chest Pain »
- Heart pain: Heart pain is usually a type of chest pain, but may also cause pain to radiate to the shoulder and down the upper arm. Usually this occurs on the left
... More on Heart pain »
- Slow heartbeat: Slow heartbeat, also called bradycardia, occurs when the heart beats abnormally slowly. Adults usually have a lower pulse rate than children. Having a slow pulse can occur normally in some
... More on Slow heartbeat »
- Rapid pulse: A rapid pulse or “tachycardia” is an abnormality of heartbeat. An increase in the pulse is normal under various circumstances, such as exercise, emotion, or anxiety, but is otherwise abnormal
... More on Rapid pulse »
Disease and Condition Articles
Read about these related conditions and diseases:
- Arrhythmias: An arrhythmia is the general name for a heart rhythm disorder, where the heart’s regular heartbeat has an abnormality. Examples include slow heart beat (bradycardia), rapid heart beat (tachycardia)
... More on Arrhythmias »
- Palpitations: Palpitations are the feeling of very strong or irregular heartbeats in the chest. They are a form of arrhythmia. Causes of palpitations range from mostly harmless (e.g. emotion) to
... More on Palpitations »
- Heart Disorders: Heart disorders include many different types of diseases of the heart. Heart disease often refers to coronary heart disease, although it may include any heart disorder. Well-known heart disorders
... More on Heart Disorders »
- Heart Disease: Heart Disease, also called Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), refers to any condition of the heart or its major blood vessels. There are literally hundreds of possible heart disorders. One of the
... More on Heart Disease »
- Heart Failure: Heart Failure is a weakly beating heart that is not adequate to maintain the body’s function. It usually refers to failure of the heart that is gradual and progressive
... More on Heart Failure »
Related Symptom Topics
Read more about these related symptoms:More »
Related Disease and Condition Topics
Read about these diseases and medical conditions related to Heart:More »
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- Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ Congenital-heart-disease/
- Source: NHLBI (NIH): nhlbi.nih.gov/ health/ health-topics/ topics/ hhw
- Source: NHLBI (NIH): nhlbi.nih.gov/ health/ health-topics/ topics/ chd/ heartworks
- Source: NIAMS (NIH): niams.nih.gov/ Health_Info/ Kids/ healthy_muscles.asp
- Source: MeSH (U.S. National Library of Medicine)
- Source: NIA (NIH): nia.nih.gov/ health/ heart-health
- Source: CDC: cdc.gov/ heartdisease/ about.htm
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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.