The heart is one of the vital organs of the body. Its efficiency will determine the quality of life a person may lead. A person with a healthy heart is able to experience more things in life than a person with an existing heart condition. A healthy person with a sound heart may choose to hike up a mountain but an unhealthy person cannot strain the body with rigorous exercise.
The best sign of a healthy heart is its efficiency in distributing blood to the different cells and organs of the body.
There are two kinds of blood that circulate the body: oxygenated blood and deoxygenated blood. As a rule of thumb, the arteries carry the oxygenated blood and the veins carry the deoxygenated blood. Once the cells of the body take up the oxygen, the blood becomes deoxygenated and moves to the vein. The venous blood also carries the by-products of the cells such as carbon dioxide.
The blood then goes back to the heart through two great veins: the inferior vena cava and the superior vena cava. Blood coming from the lower part of the body goes back to the heart via the inferior vena cava. The superior vena cava is the pathway of deoxygenated blood coming from the head up to the upper torso. Venous blood from the superior and inferior vena cava goes to the right atrium.
From the right atrium, the blood moves down to the right ventricles. Once the right ventricle contracts, the tricuspid valve closes and the blood is pumped to the pulmonary artery. The tricuspid valve is there to ensure that the blood does not go back to the right atrium when the right ventricles contract. The pulmonary artery is the only artery that carries deoxygenated blood. Blood present in the pulmonary artery signals the pulmonic valve to close with the purpose of preventing any backflow. From the pulmonary artery, the end-products from the deoxygenated blood are exhaled through the lungs. The blood is then infused with oxygen. The oxygen-rich blood then goes to the pulmonary vein.
Similar to the pulmonary artery, the pulmonary vein is the only blood vessel carrying oxygenated blood. The blood from the pulmonary vein goes to the left atrium where it drains to the left ventricle. When the left ventricle contracts, the mitral valve closes and he blood is transported to the aorta. Once the oxygenated blood reaches the aorta, the aortic valve closes so that the blood will not flow back to the heart. From the aorta, oxygen-rich blood is transported all throughout the system. In reality, both ventricles of the heart contract at the same time. While the heart is distributing oxygenated blood, it is also delivering oxygen-poor blood to the lungs for filtration.
In a healthy heart, the cycle is undisturbed. The blood is easily pumped to different parts of the body. In the presence of a block, the cycle is impeded. The heart, specifically the ventricles, is forced to pump harder to guarantee that the blood reaches the cells. If the block is not addressed, the block may become enlarged. The enlarged block will force the heart to generate an even greater amount of pressure until such time where the block has completely covered the whole vessel.
A healthy lifestyle is still the best way to a healthy heart. Proper diet keeps the arteries free from clogs while exercise will make the pumping action of the heart more efficient.
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