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The heart is at the center of your circulatory system, which is a
network of blood vessels that delivers blood to every part of your body. Blood
carries oxygen and other important nutrients that all body organs need to stay
healthy and to work properly.
Your heart is a muscle, and its job is to pump blood throughout your
Your heart is divided into two separate pumping systems, the right
side and the left side.
Your heart has
four separate chambers that pump blood, two on the right side and two on the
Blood flows through your heart and lungs in four steps:
The left and right atria are smaller chambers that pump blood into
the ventricles. The left and right ventricles are stronger pumps. The left
ventricle is the strongest because it has to pump blood out to the entire body.
When your heart functions normally, all four chambers work together in a
continuous and coordinated effort to keep oxygen-rich blood circulating
throughout your body. Your heart has its own electrical system that coordinates
the work of the heart chambers (heart rhythm) and also controls the frequency
of beats (heart rate).
The task of your heart is to pump enough blood to deliver a
continuous supply of oxygen and other nutrients to the brain and the other
vital organs. To do this, your heart needs to:
Other Works ConsultedHoit BD, Walsh RA (2011). Normal physiology of the cardiovascular system. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's The Heart, 13th ed., vol. 1, pp. 94–117. New York: McGraw-Hill.
April 26, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
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