When we put our hand on our chest, we feel our heartbeat. But have we ever really pondered the mechanism of the human heart? Here are some fascinating facts:
- The heart begins to beat four weeks after conception.
- The heart of an average man beats approximately 70 times per minute whereas the average woman’s heart beats at 78 beats per minute.
- The heart beats approximately 100,000 times in a single day, sending approximately 2,000 gallons of blood to different parts of the body, and pumping roughly 1 million barrels of blood during an average lifetime—enough to fill more than 3 super tankers.
- The blood vessels in our bodies are 60,000 miles long.
- The heart pumps blood to almost all of the body’s 75 trillion cells. Only the corneas receive no blood supply.
The heart is absolutely amazing. However, sometimes things go wrong. Angina Pectoris causes chest pain because the heart muscle doesn’t get as much blood as it needs when the heart’s arteries are narrowed or blocked. Angina often occurs during times of physical activity or strong emotions. The narrowed arteries may allow enough blood to reach the heart when the demand for oxygen is low, such as when at rest. But with physical exertion—like walking up a hill or climbing stairs—the heart works harder and needs more oxygen.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high. Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood the heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood-flow in the arteries. The more blood the heart pumps and the narrower the arteries, the higher the blood pressure readings. Usually hypertension is defined as blood pressure above 140/90, and is considered severe if the pressure is above 180/120. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels.
Arrhythmia is improper beating of the heart, whether irregular, too fast, or too slow. Arrhythmias are primarily the result of a disturbance in the electrical system within the heart that stimulates the heart to beat. Some of the symptoms can be barely perceptible, whereas others may be more dramatic such as palpitations, light-headedness, and fainting.