Pick a song with heart in the title. Go ahead, think of one.
Did you pick one of these top 5 or from another genre?
- My Heart Will Go On
- This is How a Heart Breaks
- Un-break My Heart
- Cold, Cold Heart
We sing about the heart often, don’t we? And we even have tons of phrases and idioms about the heart, like:
- a big heart
- all heart
- eat your heart out
- heavy heart
- lose heart
- out of the goodness of your heart
- with all your heart
- take heart
But do we think about the heart very often? Seriously? What consideration do we give to that organ so critical to our survival? Well, today, I’d like to change that.
Let’s consider your amazing heart –
Your heart, that one pound, fist-sized muscle that sits toward the center of your chest, that pumps blood through your body, bringing fresh, new oxygenated blood to each organ, while removing waste products and keeping them away from your tissues.
It is the work horse of your body, beating 100,00-115,000 times a day, circulating 2,000 gallons of blood every day, through a network of over 60,000 miles of stretched out blood vessels. (That’s enough for 2 times around the world!)
Think about what it does everyday within your chest, and most likely without you even being aware.
Your heart’s main function is to keep blood full of Oxygen and circulating through your body. It pumps blood through a system of blood vessels and that’s called circulating. The vessels are elastic, muscular tubes that carry blood to the entire body. Blood of course, is essential for life.
The heart carries fresh blood, filled with Oxygen, from the lungs and keeps wastes like CO2 away from our tissues. Arteries are the highways that carry the blood away from the heart. Veins take the blood back to the heart for their dose of Oxygen and waste removal. The capillaries are small, thin blood vessels that connect arteries and veins and it is through the capillary walls that the wastes leave.
I NEVER think about this stuff. (Unless I have a lesson to teach on it) Do you? The heart just does it’s job, lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. It just keeps on ticking…
That heart beat itself is triggered electrically! There are specialized cells called the SA node (sinoatrial node), that actually generates an electrical stimulus, 60-100 times a minute. Then there’s another set of cells that coordinate the speed of the signal, by slowing it down, so that the blood gets ejected from the atria to the ventricles before the ventricles contract. Otherwise, you’ve got big problems.
Then there are those ventricles and atrim. You remember them from Biology, right? The four chambers on the inside of your heart…
The four chambers of your heart are hallow and divided by a wall called the septum. The top two chambers are the atria, and the botom chambers the ventricles. Connecting each of the four chambers, are four, one-way valves, whose job it is to keep the blood from flowing in the wrong direction. Each valve has two or three leaflets or cusps.
Blood enters the right side of your heart and empties Oxygen poor blood into the right atrium. The atrium contracts, the ventricle fills, contracts and blood leaves through the pulmonary valve. It is Oxygenated and returned to the left atrium.
On the left side, the pulmonary veins empty Oxygen rich blood from the lungs into the left atrium. The atrium contracts, blood flows to the left ventricle, then contracts causing the blood to leave the heart through the aortic valve to the body.
In the lungs, in those tiny air sacs, Oxygen travels through the walls of the capillaries into the bloodstream. And, CO2 leaves the body when you exhale! Whew…
Again, all this happens without so much of an intentional thought about what miracle is occuring within our chest.
Although blood circulates beautifully through the heart receiving Oxygen and ridding itself of wastes, the health of the organ itself is maintained by specialized arteries on the right and left outsides of the heart. They are called coronary arteries.
These arteries become diseased when plaque builds up in them and prevents the heart from getting what it needs. This is called Coronary Artery Disease, CAD. My father passed away due to this, with a 96% blockage in his artery. I can still remember the nurse showing me the image of the blockage!
This is why, for the health of our heart, we are encouraged to exercise, eat a well balanced diet and avoid damaging causes (like smoking).
So, whether we are talking about the smallest of all hearts, as found in the Fairy fly, or the largest, as found in the whale, the heart is amazing!
Whether it is pumping in a person’s chest, or has been disconnected from the body, and is still beating, the heart is amazing.
It’s design, function and efficiency is amazing.
Whether the heart of that 1 minute old baby, the youngest to undergo heart surgery, or in the 3,500 year old Egyptian mummy, the earliest to be identified with heart disease, the heart is amazing.
To know CPR and be able to bring back “to life” a heartbeat, is amazing! (We all should know CPR, in my opinion)
So, my friend, I know your heart is in the right place, and I pray, that out of the goodness of your heart you will take heart, and with all of your heart be grateful for your amazing heart.
Bless your (amazing) heart!