Know Your Heart: Anatomy 101

February 4, 2019

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Saleem Husain, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cardiac / Heart Health.

Understanding how your heart functions and contributes to your entire body can go a long way in helping you appreciate the hardest-working muscle in your body.

Your heart is made up of:

4 CHAMBERS

The two upper chambers (the atria) receive and collect blood. The two lower chambers (the ventricles) pump blood to other parts of your body.

4 VALVES

The aortic, pulmonary, mitral and tricuspid valves are designed to allow the forward flow of blood and prevent the backward flow. Blood passes through a valve before leaving each chamber of the heart.

What are valves anyway?

Valves are actually flaps (leaflets). They either act as one-way inlets for blood coming into a ventricle or one-way outlets for blood leaving a ventricle. As the heart muscle contracts and relaxes, the valves open and shut, letting blood flow through.

BLOOD VESSELS

These bring blood to the lungs, where oxygen enters the bloodstream, and then to the body.

AN ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

This serves as a natural pacemaker and stimulates contraction of the heart muscle.

How does the heart work?

In short, it has a big job. “Your cardiovascular system — made up of the heart and blood vessels — is responsible for circulating blood throughout your body to supply your tissues with oxygen and nutrients,” says Saleem Husain, M.D., Cardiac Catheterization Lab director and Chest Pain medical director at JFK Medical Center.

“Your heart is the muscle that pumps your blood through the blood vessels to the body tissues. A network of arteries and veins also carries blood throughout the body.”

Quick facts about your heart:

  • At an average rate of 80 times per minute, the heart beats about 115,000 times in one day.
  • Located almost in the center of the chest, the adult human heart is about the size of a fist.
  • The heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood daily

Get smart about your heart and read more articles on heart health. To learn more about cardiovascular services at Hackensack Meridian Health, visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org/Cardiovascular.