Next to the brain, the heart is the most important organ of the body as it is responsible for pumping blood – which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the body’s tissues – through the body. The vessels that are responsible for transporting the blood are called veins and arteries. If these transporters get damaged, very serious diseases could result – ultimately ending in death.

The structure of the heart

This organ is surrounded by a very thick layer in order to protect its delicate inner workings. These layers are called:

  • Inner endocardium
  • Middle myocardium
  • Outer epicardium

It is divided into two. Each section is divided into two chambers which have an atrium as well as a ventricle:

  • Atria: The right atrium collects deoxygenated blood that is returned from the lungs while the left atrium gathers reoxygenated blood coming from the lungs to the heart.
  • Ventricles: The right ventricle receives deoxygenated blood from the right atrium and pumps it to the lungs to be reoxygenated. The  left ventricle receives oxygenated blood from the left atrium and pumps it into the arteries which will distribute it to the entire body.

What is ‘heart disease’?

When people talk about this type of disease, ease the heart itself doesn’t contract a virus or a bacteria.  What happens is that the blood vessels transporting blood to and from the heart become blocked.

One of the most common is coronary heart disease. Says Dr Benjamin Wedro:

“Coronary artery disease occurs when there is a build-up of cholesterol plaque inside the artery walls. Over time, this build-up of plaque may partially block the artery and decrease blood flow through it. A heart attack occurs when a plaque ruptures and forms a clot in the artery causing a complete blockage. That part of the heart muscle that is denied blood supply starts to die.”

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