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How the Normal Heart Works Part I of III

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How the Normal Heart Works Part I of III

The heart is a muscle the size of a fist that pumps blood without rest throughout the body 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.   The normal heart is composed of four parts: two ventricles (left ventricle and right ventricle), the muscular chambers on the bottom that provide the major power to pump blood, and two atria on the top of the heart (left atrium and right atrium) that fill and pump blood into the ventricles.   These four chambers are connected by valves that only allow blood to move forward and prevent blood from flowing backwards.   Coronary arteries are blood vessels that deliver a nourishing and constant supply of blood to the heart muscle.


Internal Heart Image

The heart’s pumping action, or heartbeat, is controlled by a complicated electrical system.   Complications with the regular heartbeat, such as abnormally slow or fast rhythms, can be caused by aging, a heart attack (myocardial infarction) , but may happen for other reasons as well.


Problems with heart rhythms can cause the feeling that the heart is “racing,” (palpitations), result in passing out (syncope), cause weakness and sometimes death.

Coronary arteries blockage can also cause major problems in the heart because they stop or slow the flow of blood to the heart muscle.   If the heart doesn’t get enough blood, pain (often called angina) or muscle death from a heart attack (myocardial infarction) can result.


Although people can do a lot to protect their hearts by eating a healthy diet , exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight,  controlling their cholesterol and blood pressure and not smoking they may have been born with a tendency to have heart disease or other illnesses that negatively affect the heart.

To detect abnormalities in the heartbeat, an ECG device is used typically used, either a 12 lead ECG, Holter monitor, loop event recorder or non-looping cardiac event monitor.   If an arrhythmia is present it can be treated by a cardiac ablation during an electrophysiology procedure where EP catheters are inserted into the heart and radiofrequency energy is transmitted through the platinum distal tip to burn the region of the heart that is causing the arrhythmia.

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