Purpose of the Heart
Not unlike a train or bus station, the heart is the depot, or central hub, for transport of blood to outlying regions of the body. All of the major components of fitness, health, and life itself are dependent upon the action and activity of the heart. Each organ of the body is tantamount to a small town awaiting oxygen and nutrients to survive. Many stores and businesses in the United States rely heavily on the transport of their products by big tractor trailers to reach them in a timely and efficient manner. Without delivery, many of these businesses will go under or eventually shutdown. In the same way, this is how the organs of the body depend on the heart to fulfill its purpose.
Physiology of the Heart
Despite the enormity of its responsibility, the heart is a rather small organ, typically about the size of a fist. The heart consists of four chambers with the two upper chambers, the atria, being responsible for receiving blood into the heart; the two lower chambers, the ventricles, are responsible for pumping blood out of the heart to the rest of the body. Briefly, deoxygenated blood enters the heart through the right atrium. It is then released into the lower right ventricle. From there, blood is pumped out of the heart--by way of pulmonary arteries--to the lungs where it becomes oxygenated in what is called pulmonary circulation. Next, it is returned to the heart via pulmonary veins and enters into the left atrium. From the left atrium, blood is released into the most muscular component of the heart, the left ventricle. The heart contracts, pumping blood from the left ventricle, through the aorta, and subsequently to the rest of the body.
Organs are the formation of different kinds of tissues. Tissues are comprised of groups of cells. It is at the cellular level where the utilization of oxygen and nutrients transpires. Arteries break down into smaller arterioles. Arterioles subsequently become smaller capillaries. It is at this juncture that gas and nutrient exchange occurs. Oxygen and required nutrients are delivered to organs and working muscle tissue. Metabolic wastes and carbon dioxide are then released into venous system to either be expelled from the body, as in wastes and toxins, or to be recycled for further use by the body, as in deoxygenated blood. All of this is predicated upon a heart that is working up to its full capacity.
Every organ, tissue and cell in the body relies heavily on the blood flow produced by a heart working at its capacity. An under-producing heart means a reduction in the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the organs of the body, and a reduction in the transport of wastes, toxins and carbon dioxide out of the body. This will inevitably lead to necrosis, or tissue death, exacerbating the potential for organ failure. Exercise, healthy eating habits and consistent visits to a family doctor are proven ways to ensure the heart does what it is supposed to do so that the other organs of the body can reciprocate.
- Man's Health Sourcebook, The, Alfred M. Dashe, MD; 1996
- Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, Tortora, Gerard and Derrickson, Bryan; 2009