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September 2, 2011 at 8:35 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Anatomy of the Heart

By Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD More Blogs by This Author

Dr. Jeff Chamberlain talks about the anatomy of the heart and basic function.
Host, Gerry Barnaby- Hey, what’s happening? Another HelloLife Moment, this one having to do with your heart, because—Dr. Jeffrey Chamberlain, family medicine specialist—I tell you what, if the heart’s not right, you’re probably not going to have a great life. So let’s break it down—let’s talk about the heart! It’s a muscle, right?
Health Coach, Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD- Yeah, the heart is kind of a very special muscle. It has a different type of muscle than all the other muscles in your body, and it needs to constantly work day in and day out for your entire life, otherwise your life is going to be over.
Barnaby- Well, let’s talk about how big is the heart. The size of your fist?
Dr. Chamberlain- That’s a good analogy, and it’s pretty much true—about the size of your fist, your heart’s in the middle of your chest, slightly to the left side, right about here, right about the size of your fist.
Barnaby- Sure. And it’s just beating—how many times in a minute, on average?
Dr. Chamberlain- On average, what’s considered normal is anywhere between 60 times in a minute to about 100 times in a minute. Some people who are athletes have a slower heart rate than that, and sometimes their heart rate’s in the 50’s. When we’re actively doing something, our heart rate naturally increases, and so our heart rate can be in the 100, 120, 130 range is pretty normal also.
Barnaby- And though it is one big piece of muscle, there’s actually two stages to it? Explain that.
Dr. Chamberlain- The heart has the ventricles and the atria. The ventricles are on the bottom, and they’re the larger, thicker muscle, and the ventricles—the atria, I’m sorry, are on the top. They’re a little bit—they’re a smaller muscle. The blood comes into the atria, the atria squeeze, pushes things down into the ventricle, and then the ventricle squeeze, and that gives the pressure and power to go up to our lungs, and to send the blood everywhere else in our body.
Barnaby- So that’s why your heart goes—buh-bum, buh-bum—top and bottom, right?
Dr. Chamberlain- Yeah, exactly—top and bottom, top and bottom.
Barnaby- Excellent. All right, and so what goes wrong with the heart? When we talk about heart disease, is it the muscle itself that’s having problems?
Dr. Chamberlain- So heart disease is kind of a vague term. It could mean a lot of things—basically, anything going wrong with the heart can cause heart disease, and so I kind of break it down into two major types: there’s cardiovascular disease, where the blood vessels going to the heart have the problem, and congestive heart failure or heart failure, where the muscle itself is having the problem. So in cardiovascular disease, the arteries that go and give and supply the muscle in the heart are blocked off some. And so when the muscle needs extra blood, there’s not enough blood there, and so the muscle either can’t do what it needs to do when it’s under stress, or if it’s blocked off enough and the muscle doesn’t get enough blood when it’s at rest, then it starts to die, and that’s what a heart attack is.
Barnaby- Okay, and we’re going to talk in ensuing segments about the vascular system, because that is a lifestyle and dietary sort of a deal—you have a very definite say into how clean your pipes are—because we’re all born with squeaky-clean pipes, or arteries. Right?
Dr. Chamberlain- Yeah. They start off clean, and as they go on, they get damaged.
Barnaby- Yeah, it just gets worse and worse. All right, well, Dr. Jeffrey Chamberlain joining us, always on, where—you know what, it’s a big social network, folks, it is the HelloLife Network, and you’re invited to chime in on your experiences with what it is we’re talking about, because we’re all in this together, and we like to share in your knowledge, as well as tap into the knowledge of experts here on

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