The Heart And It's Function: Presentation

Essay by dobleCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 2009

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What is the heart?What does the heart do?When blood gets pumped, how does it know which way to go in your heart?What happens if the heart fails to pump blood?How can I keep a healthy heart?Your heart is a pump. Its walls are made of thick muscle. It's located a little to the left of the middle of your chest, and it's about the size of your fist. You probably know what the heart looks like, but you’re probably wrong. The heart doesn’t look like a Valentine’s Day heart. It looks like an ice cream cone, with a pointed bottom and a rounded top.

The heart pumps blood throughout your body. Blood contains oxygen, or air, which we breathe in. First, blood enters the heart and then goes to the lungs, where it picks up air. Then blood returns back to the heart and the heart pumps this oxygenated blood into our body.

Arteries carry blood away from the heart and veins carry blood to the heart. The largest artery is the aorta and the largest vein is the vena cava.

So when the blood gets pumped, how does it know which way to go?Well, your blood relies on four special valves inside the heart. A valve lets something in and keeps it there by closing - think of walking through a door. The door shuts behind you and keeps you from going backward.

Two of the heart valves are the mitral valve and the tricuspid valve. They let blood flow from the atria to the ventricles. The other two are called the aortic valve and pulmonary valve, and they're in charge of controlling the flow as the blood leaves the heart. These valves all work to keep the blood flowing forward. They open up to let the blood move ahead, then they close quickly to keep the blood from flowing backward.

The movement of the blood through the heart and around the body is called circulation, and your heart is really good at it. It's so good at it that it takes less than 60 seconds to pump blood to every cell in your body. Your body needs this steady supply of blood to keep it working right. Blood delivers oxygen to all the body's cells. To stay alive, a person needs healthy, living cells. Without oxygen, these cells would die.

The left side of your heart sends that oxygen-rich blood out to the body. The body takes the oxygen out of the blood and uses it in your body's cells. When the cells use the oxygen, they make carbon dioxide and other stuff that gets carried away by the blood. It's like the blood delivers lunch to the cells and then has to pick up the trash!Our organs, like our kidneys, lungs, liver, and brain, need air to survive. If your heart fails to pump blood, your body will turn blue because it doesn’t have enough oxygen or air. You will be breathing really fast like trying to catch your breath. You might also feel tired, dizzy, and sleepy. Your heart will beat really fast to try to get air into your body as fast as possible.

Most kids are born with a healthy heart and it's important to keep yours in good shape. Here are some things that you can do to help keep your heart happy:•Remember that your heart is a muscle. If you want it to be strong, you need to exercise it. How do you do it? By being active in a way that gets you huffing and puffing, like jumping rope, dancing, or playing basketball. Try to be active daily.

• Eat a variety of healthy foods and avoid foods high in unhealthy fats•Don't smoke. It can damage the heart and blood vessels.