Medical University of South Carolina Hospital logo
Home |  Video Library | Podcast Library | e-Newsletters | Classes & Events | About Us | News Blog | University & Colleges 
Contact Us | 843-792-1414
  

Patients & Visitors

Medical Services

Maps & Parking

Health Library

Physician Portal

Careers

Online Services
MUSC Heart & Vascular Center
About MUSC Heart & Vascular Center
Our Services
Our Team
Video Library
Podcast Library
Health Assessment Tools
2010 Annual Report
Support Groups
Research
Education
Ways to Give
Contact Us
Health Library
Bookmark Page icon Bookmark |

Print this page icon

|

E-mail icon

Heart Health Library


About the Heart and Blood Vessels

Anatomy of the heart, anterior view
Click Image to Enlarge

The heart is the hardest working muscle in the human body. Located almost in the center of the chest, a normal healthy adult heart is the size of an average clenched adult fist. By age 70, the human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times. The heart is always working and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood daily.

A child's heart works just as hard as an adult's heart. In fact, at rest, a baby's heart may beat up to 130 to 150 times a minute, while an adult's heart usually beats between 60 and 100 times a minute. The rate at which the heart pumps gradually slows down from birth to adolescence.

The cardiovascular system, composed of the heart and blood vessels, is responsible for circulating blood throughout the body. A healthy cardiovascular system is vital to supplying the body with oxygen and nutrients.

Anatomy of the heart, interior view
Click Image to Enlarge

How the heart works

The heart is a large, muscular organ that pumps blood filled with oxygen and nutrients through the blood vessels to the body tissues. It's made up of:

  • Four chambers.The two upper chambers, the atria, receive and collect blood. The two lower chambers, ventricles, pump blood to other parts of your body. More specifically: 
    • The right atrium receives blood from the body, which is low in oxygen.
    • The right ventricle pumps the blood from the right atrium into the lungs to provide it with oxygen and remove carbon dioxide.
    • The left atrium receives blood from the lungs, which is rich in oxygen.
    • The left ventricle pumps the blood from the left atrium into the body, supplying all organs with oxygen-rich blood.
  • Four valves. The four valves: aortic, pulmonary, mitral, and tricuspid valves are designed to allow the forward flow of blood and prevent the backward flow.
  • Blood vessels.These bring blood to the lungs, where oxygen enters the bloodstream, and then to the body:
    • The inferior and superior vena cava bring oxygen-poor blood from the body into the right atrium.
    • The pulmonary artery channels oxygen-poor blood from the right ventricle into the lungs, where oxygen enters the bloodstream.
    • The pulmonary veins bring oxygen-rich blood to the left atrium.
    • The aorta channels oxygen-rich blood to the body.
  • An electrical system that stimulates contraction of the heart muscle.

A network of arteries and veins also carry blood throughout the body.

  • Arteries transport blood from the heart to the body tissues.
  • Veins carry blood back to the heart.

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Cardiovascular Disorders

OUR SERVICES


 Treatment at MUSC:
 »Heart and Vascular Center

 

RELATED INFORMATION

Sources & References
 Sources & References

About This Site   |   Disclaimer   |  Privacy   |   Accessibility   |   Donations   |   Site Map
171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29403 1.843.792.1414 | © 2014 Medical University of South Carolina

mobile web site iconrss feed iconText Messaging iconPodcast Library