Your Heart: An Overview
Your heart is a hollow muscle, made of two pumps side by side. Each pump has two chambers: the atrium and the ventricle. Your heart is responsible for pumping blood (and oxygen and nutrients) to all parts of your body. Once the blood is ready to be re-oxygenated, it moves through your veins back to your heart, and then on to your lungs where it gets re-oxygenated. It also pumps blood from the rest of your body to the lungs, where blood is re-oxygenated. Weighing between 8 to 10 ounces, this miraculous organ beats about 100,000 times and pumps 1,980 galons of blood through your body every day. This process runs continuously every minute of your life. Amazingly, the system of blood vessels moves your blood over 60,000 miles of arteries, veins, and capillaries, yet it only takes about 20 seconds for your blood to travel the entire vascular system!
Are You at Risk For Heart Disease?
If any of the following conditions apply to you, consult your physician as they can increase your risk of heart disease. You can also request various blood tests
to get a more accurate picture of your risk.
- You have a family history of heart disease
- You are a smoker
- You weigh 10 pounds or more than your ideal body weight and/or have a body mass index above 24
- You have high blood pressure
- Your total cholesterol is above 200 mg/dL
- You suffer from chronic stress
- You live a sedentary lifestyle
- You have type-2 diabetes
Common Symptoms of Heart Disease
The following warning signs are typical for heart disease. If you experience any of them, consult your physician immediately.
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in one or both arms (especially the left arm)
- Pain in the upper back, neck, shoulder blade, or jaw
- Indigestion or vomiting for no apparent reason
- In men, inability to achieve or maintain a firm erection