Boom, boom, boom … Goes the heart
Boom, boom, boom … It’s the sound of the beating heart. You already know that this organ is at the centre of our organism, without which we could not live, right? But do you know all of its secrets?
9 things you need to know about the heart!
- The heart is a vital organ that works like a pump. It contracts in order to pump the blood through the arteries. This blood, coming from the lungs, is very rich in oxygen and provides oxygen to all parts of the body, essential for cellular life.
- The heart is the first organ to be developed in humans. Indeed, formation of the heart begins on the 16th day of the embryo and it begins to beat on the 22nd day. Its formation is complete after 7 weeks while the brain’s formation has just begun.
- The heart impacts on blood pressure.
The heart is the source of blood circulation in the body. Any abnormality in cardiac function has an effect on blood pressure.
For example, when the heart beats too fast (more than 80 beats per minute at rest), this results in an increase in blood pressure, and vice versa when it beats too slowly.
- Heart cells are special, and have a very different function to all other cells.
The contractile cells of the heart are called cardiomyocytes. They have the peculiarity of contracting alone without receiving an “order” from the brain, and in a highly synchronized manner.
- The heart “sings” thanks to its valves. The heartbeats we hear are due to the closing of cardiac valves, which are the aortic valve and the mitral (left heart) valve, the pulmonary valve and the tricuspid (right heart) valve. When drawing the heart, the left heart is drawn on the right and vice versa. It is a medical convention.
It’s possible to live without a heart! The heart is a vital organ, which means it’s impossible to live without it. However, in a very temporary way, medical alternatives have made it possible to keep patients alive.
This was the case for Jakub Halik who, following heart cancer, underwent an ablation of the heart. The graft was incompatible with his cancer treatment, so a mechanical pump was implanted and allowed him to live for nearly 200 days.
There is also an artificial heart system which provides a temporary alternative while waiting for a heart transplant. This was the case for the American Stan Larkin, who suffered from a disease that attacked the muscle tissue of his heart. He was able to live for 17 months with this artificial heart, which consisted of an air pump, while awaiting his transplant.
- The first artificial heart implant was in 1963. Artificial hearts are pump mechanisms modelled on the operation of the human heart. However, it was not until 2008 when the transplant of an artificial heart was successful. This transplant took place in Paris and the artificial heart, named Carmat, was manufactured by the EADS Group (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company). This artificial heart is not yet commercialized and is still in clinical trial phase.
- The heart can be healed with animal tissue.The heart consists of 4 cavities (2 auricles and 2 ventricles) through which the blood passes and 4 valves that connect them. These valves are very important and prevent blood reflux (circulation in the wrong direction). There are cardio-valvulopathies (a pathology that affects the function of the cardiac valves) which result in a malfunction of these valves, requiring their replacement. Out of 280,000 implantations of valve prostheses worldwide, half are bio-prostheses that come from bovine or porcine heart tissue. These bio-prostheses have an advantage over mechanical prostheses in that they do not require the use of an anticoagulant treatment.
The heart is an organ that is vital for the whole organism; it is at the centre of all its functions. It will allow oxygenation of each cell, through recovery of blood rich in O2 through the lungs and sending it through the different vascular circuits with its pumping function, acting on the blood pressure. It is important to note that self-measurement of blood pressure is an indicator to check for good functioning of the heart. In addition, keeping one's heart healthy through exercise and healthy eating is paramount. Being overweight and excessive consumption of salt and saturated fats are major risk factors of cardio-vascular pathologies.
The specifics and essential role of the heart make it unique and irreplaceable; so take care of it!
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