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The Heart and Cardiovascular System

Heart NewsThe cardiovascular system is made up of the heart and the blood vessels, such as the veins and arteries, which move the blood around the body. Your heart is a muscle that is about the size of your fist. It works like a pump and it is always pumping blood throughout the body. The average heart beats 100,000 times a day. Blood carries oxygen from the lungs and nutrients from the digestive system to the cells in the body. The blood then carries waste products back to be removed by the kidneys and carbon dioxide to be removed by the lungs. (Read about "Vascular System")

Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart. The main artery from the heart is the aorta. Veins carry oxygen-poor blood back to your heart. At the lungs, it is the pulmonary artery that brings oxygen-poor blood into the lungs and the pulmonary vein that carries oxygen-rich blood back to the heart.

The heart is divided into four parts or chambers. The top ones are called the left atrium and right atrium and the bottom two are the left ventricle and right ventricle. Blood first enters the heart at the right atrium, passes through the tricuspid valve into the right ventricle. The blood is then sent out through the pulmonary valve to the lungs. The HeartIt picks up oxygen and comes back to the heart at the left atrium. From there it passes through the mitral valve into the left ventricle where it is pushed through the aortic valve and out to the body. The mitral valve differs from the rest of the valves because it is made up of just two flaps; the others have three flaps. Those flaps can also be called leaflets or cusps.

The chambers each have a purpose. The atria act as reservoirs for the blood before it moves on to the larger ventricles. The ventricles are the strong pumps of the heart with the left one, the one that pushes blood out to most of the body, being the strongest. These chambers can be damaged by disease, resulting in scarring, weakening of the muscle, thickening of the muscle or hardening of the heart wall. (Read about "Cardiomyopathy")

The job of the valves is to keep the blood moving all in one direction, but problems can occur there as well. (Read about "The Heart & Its Valves")

You can follow the links below to learn more about the heart and the cardiovascular system along with diseases and conditions that can affect them.

Aneurysm: see Aneurysms

Angina: see Angina

Angioplasty: see Angioplasty

Arrhythmia: see Arrhythmia

Arteries: see Vascular System

Arteriosclerosis: see Arteriosclerosis & Atherosclerosis

Aspirin: see Aspirin & Heart

Atherosclerosis: see Arteriosclerosis & Atherosclerosis

Bypass surgery: see Coronary Bypass Surgery

Blood pressure, high: see Hypertension: High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure, kidney disease: see BP & Kidney Disease

Blood pressure, women: see Women & Blood Pressure

Bypass: see Coronary Bypass Surgery

Cardiac arrest: see Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac rehabilitation: see Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiomyopathy: see Cardiomyopathy

Cardiovascular tests: see Cardiovascular Tests

Cholesterol: see Cholesterol

Congenital heart defects: see Congenital Heart Defects

Congestive heart failure: see Congestive Heart Failure

Coronary bypass surgery: see Coronary Bypass Surgery

Coronary heart disease: see Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary microvascular disease: see Coronary Microvascular Disease

CT angiography: see CT Scans - Computerized Tomography

Deep vein thrombosis: see Deep Vein Thrombosis

Diet: see Low Fat Food Tips

EKG: see EKG - Electrocardiogram

Endocarditis: see The Heart & Its Valves

Enlarged heart: see Enlarged Heart

Exercise: see Exercise and Your Heart

Fainting: see Syncope

Foramen ovale, patent: see Patent Foramen Ovale

Glossary of heart terms: see Glossary of Heart Terms

Glossary of stroke terms: see Glossary of Stroke Terms

Heart structure: see The Heart & Its Valves

Heart attack: see Heart Attack

Heart disease & women: see Heart Disease & Women

Heart murmurs: see The Heart & Its Valves

Heart risks: see Heart Risks

Heart tests: see Cardiovascular Tests

Homocysteine: see Homocysteine

Hypertension: see Hypertension: High Blood Pressure

Lupus: see Lupus

Marfan syndrome: see Marfan Syndrome

Mitral valve prolapse: see The Heart & Its Valves

Myocardial infarction: see Heart Attack

Patent ductus arteriosus: see Congenital Heart Defects

Patent foramen ovale: see Patent Foramen Ovale

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) : see PAD

Rehabilitation: see Cardiac Rehabilitation

Risks, heart: see Heart Risks

Salt, sodium: see Sodium

Scleroderma: see Scleroderma

Smoking, how to quit: see Quit Smoking

Stenosis: see The Heart & Its Valves

Stents: see Angioplasty

Stress test: see Stress Test

Stroke: see Stroke

Sudden cardiac arrest: see Cardiac Arrest

Syncope: see Syncope

Target heart rate: see Target Heart Rate

Tests: see Cardiovascular Tests

Tetralogy of Fallot: see Congenital Heart Defects

Thrombophilia: see Thrombophilia

Valve regurgitation: see The Heart & Its Valves

Valve stenosis: see The Heart & Its Valves

Vascular system: see Vascular System

Veins: see Vascular System

Women & blood pressure: see Women & Blood Pressure

Women & heart disease: see Heart Disease & Women

All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.

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By printing and/or reading this article, you agree that you accept all terms and conditions of use, as specified online.