As a central part of the circulatory system, the heart is primarily responsible for pumping blood and distributing oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Because of this task, the heart may be considered one of the most important organs of the body, such that even small dysfunctions or abnormalities may cause drastic changes or effects in the human organism.
The heart is the main organ in the circulatory system, the structure primarily responsible for delivering the circulation of blood and transportation of nutrients in all parts of the body. This continuous task uplifts the role of the heart as a vital organ whose normal operation is constantly required.
Your heart is divided into two separate pumping systems, the right side and the left side;
- The right side of your heart receives oxygen-poor blood from your veins and pumps it to your lungs, where it picks up oxygen and gets rid of carbon dioxide.
- The left side of your heart receives oxygen-rich blood from your lungs and pumps it through your arteries to the rest of your body.
How much do you really know about your heart’s health? It is easy to be fooled by misconceptions. After all, heart disease only happens to your elderly neighbour or to your fried food-loving uncle, right? Or do you know the real truth that heart disease can affect people of any age, even those who eat right?
MYTHS ABOUT THE HEART– There are a lot of assumptions we make about our hearts.
- I’m too young to worry about heart disease. How you live now affects your risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. As early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries. Even young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems, especially now that obesity, type 2 diabetes and other risk factors are becoming more common at a younger age.
- I would know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs. High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because you do not usually know you have it. You may never experience symptoms, so don’t wait for your body to alert you that there is a problem. The way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check your numbers with a simple blood pressure test. Early treatment of high blood pressure is critical because, if left untreated, it can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other serious health problems. Learn how high blood pressure is diagnosed.
- I will know when I am having a heart attack because I will have chest pain. Not necessarily. Although it’s common to have chest pain or discomfort, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back.
- Diabetes will not threaten my heart as long as I take my medication. Treating diabetes can help reduce your risk for or delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. But even when blood sugar levels are under control, you’re still at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. That is because the risk factors that contribute to diabetes onset also make you more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. These overlapping risk factors include high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and smoking.
- Heart failure means the heart stops beating. The heart suddenly stops beating during cardiac arrest, not heart failure. With heart failure, the heart keeps working, but it doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. It can cause shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles or persistent coughing and wheezing. During cardiac arrest, a person loses consciousness and stops normal breathing.
- I should avoid exercise after having a heart attack. No! As soon as possible, get moving with a plan approved for you! Research shows that heart attack survivors who are regularly physically active and make other heart-healthy changes live longer than those who don’t. People with chronic conditions typically find that moderate-intensity activity is safe and beneficial. Find the help you need by joining a cardiac rehabilitation program, but first consult your healthcare provider for advice on developing a physical activity plan tailored to your needs.
FACTS ABOUT THE HEART
- You want to know how big your heart is. Make a fist. Heart size depends on the size of the person as well as the condition of their heart. Generally speaking, a healthy heart is about the size of the person’s fist.
- Heart attack symptoms are different in men and women. Although heart disease is an equal opportunity killer, symptoms of heart attack show up differently in men versus women. Whereas men often report crushing chest pain, sweating and nausea, women might instead experience shortness of breath, dizziness and light-headedness or fainting, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, and upper back pressure.
- Your activity level is the greatest potential risk factor for heart disease. People with low fitness levels have double the risk of heart disease as their more active counterparts, and 80 percent of heart disease is preventable with healthy lifestyle choices and management of risk factors. Other ways to lower heart disease risk include quitting smoking, controlling cholesterol and eating better, managing blood pressure, losing weight, and reducing blood sugar.
- Depression increases your risk for a heart attack, especially if you’re a woman. If you’re a woman under 55 with moderate or severe depression, listen up. This group of women are more than twice as likely to suffer a heart attack, die of heart disease, or require an artery-opening procedure.
- Excessive amounts of sitting have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. You may have heard that sitting is the new smoking. Numerous studies show that spending most of the day on your seat has been linked to chronic health conditions, including heart disease. When we are more active, even with smaller movements like when we stand or shift from side to side, our muscles turn on genes that create chemicals and proteins that not only help us process blood sugar and cholesterol more efficiently but also create a healthier atmosphere in the walls of our blood vessels. That then leads to a lower heart disease risk, which is why you should stand up and move around at least every hour for a few minutes.
Your heart is not only your most critical muscle, it is what keeps you alive and also one of the hardest working. It ticks 24/7 and except for the times when you are relaxing or sleeping, it rarely gets a break. Your heart does more work than you might imagine. Try and take care of it!