Bodies are not very complicated as others would like to have you believe. One of the things I point out to patients at times when I want to quickly simplify and get to the point of how a body works is the importance of blood and blood flow for the body. I literally start by saying, ” If I poke a hole in one of your blood vessels and let the blood leak out of your body, you will die.” That usually gets their attention. It’s not to be graphic but just to cut to the chase so they get the magnitude of importance of what I’m saying about the importance of blood and blood circulation. Blood is our life source. It carries life to all the cells in the body. The heart is the pump that moves blood to the cells to give them life.

The heart needless to say is a vital part of this machine we call the body. The heart is a muscle. It sits in the middle of the chest behind your sternum or breast bone(the bone in the front and center of your chest where your ribs attach). It sits behind this bone as well as the ribs on the left side of the front of the chest. The heart is about the size of a large fist. The heart has four chambers or sections. Two on the top are called atria. (Atrium, the singular form of the word atria. Atrium comes from Latin meaning an open roofed entrance hall or room.) The heart has a right and left atrium. Blood enters the heart into the atria. Blood coming from the body back to the heart enters the right atrium. Blood coming back from the lungs enters the left atrium. The heart has two chambers on the bottom called the ventricles. The ventricles are the hollow parts of an organ or specialized structure of a body. There are two sides to a human heart, the right and left ventricles. Ventricle comes from the Latin word ventriculus, from venter which means belly. The ventricles receive the blood from the atria above and pump the blood out of the heart. Blood that comes from the body into the right atrium goes into the right ventricle and gets pumped to the lungs where it receives a fresh supply of oxygen and unloads its waste in the form of carbon dioxide. This freshly oxygenated blood from the lungs comes back to the heart and enters the left atrium. From the left atrium, this oxygenated blood goes into the left ventricle where it is then pumped out to the body.

So the heart itself, being a muscle needs its own supply of oxygenated blood to flow within the actual tissues of the heart. There are arteries that do this very task called the coronary arteries. The word coronary comes from the Latin word coronarius, which came from corona, which means wreath, crown. The coronary arteries are extremely important to the body as if there is any disease or problem with these arteries if not handled it may lead to a person’s death. We are all familiar with the term “heart attack” which basically is when a coronary artery becomes blocked.

So the name of the game for heart health is to keep the arteries or pipes clean. There are several ways to do this. Here are my top five things to do to improve the health of your heart.

  1. Stop smoking. First, and most importantly, stop smoking. The chemicals in smoking are directly infused into the arteries from the lungs when you smoke. I can tell you with certainty that these chemicals are not good for your pipes.
  2. Lower your blood sugar. The second thing to do is to keep your blood sugar under control. Remember high blood glucose levels also lead to damage of the lining of the pipes. You can get a little more data on this by reviewing my previous article on DIABETES.
  3. Weight loss. Keeping your body weight down is another way to improve the health of your heart. It’s really simple. The bigger your body, the harder your heart has to work all the time.
  4. Exercise. Exercising regularly has great benefits for the heart. The heart is a muscle and like all muscles in the body, it benefits from regular exercise.
  5. Healthy eating. This kind of goes without saying but we are what we eat. Studies clearly show that balanced healthy diets lead to better heart health and health in general.

When a heart is not doing well a person can sometimes get certain symptoms. Bouts of chest pain, fatigue, irregular heartbeats, swelling in your legs are some things which can indicate heart disease. If you have ever experienced these symptoms you should definitely get checked out by your doctor. Hope this helps to give you a better understanding of your heart. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to stop by and see us.

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