Valentines Day is a special time to celebrate love and affection, and what better way to do that than by taking a closer look at one of the most vital organs in our body - the heart. This muscle is the size of a mans fist and is responsible for pumping oxygen carrying blood throughout the body. Here are five facts about your heart:
The heart has its own special electrical system that controls the rhythm and rate of its beats. These specialized cells send and receive signals from hormones, enzymes and ions like sodium (Na), Calcium (Ca) and Potassium (K).
The heart is a powerful muscle that pumps up to 5 liters of blood per minute. It beats 100,000 times a day...every day...which is more than 3 billion times in a persons lifetime.
Unlike other muscles in the body, the heart cannot repair and regenerate itself. After a heart attack the cardiac cell are replaced by scar tissue that cannot contract like a heart muscle. The most number of heart attacks occurs on Christmas Day. The second most on Dec 26, followed by January 1.
Heartbeats (your pulse rate) can vary. Heartbeats vary from person to person and also moment to moment. They can be influenced by emotions (love, anger, fear), physical activity and what we eat and drink. The parasympathetic nervous system releases a hormone called acetylcholine that slows the heart rate. Other hormones like thyroid, glucocorticoids and adrenalin speed up the heart rate. Meditation has been shown to slow the heart rate.
There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body...enough to encircle the globe twice. Every cell in the body receives oxygen from your beating heart except the cornea. It gets its oxygen from the air and heals the fastest of any organ in the body. The heart gets its own oxygen supply from the coronary arteries, not from the blood it pumps.
The heart is the center of life and no wonder it is a metaphor for love. On this Valentines Day, let's not only show love to our significant others, but also to our own heart by taking care of it.