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Always believed to be the seat of the soul since time immemorial, the heart beats 60-100 times per minute. According to the scientists at the Mayo Clinic, the heart of an adult can beat between 86,400 and 144,000 times per day. It can actually be considered as a pump that distributes blood to the organs on a precise path. It is ruled by a system of electric contractions (heartbeats) which, in case of malfunction or interruption, can affect the contractions of the heart walls (fibrillation) or block the pumping.
The walls of the heart are made of a special type of muscle: the myocardium. The heart is divided into four chambers: two smaller atria and two bigger ventricles. Atria receive blood and pump it gently into the ventricles. For this reason they can be considered as a sort of ‘booster pump’ for the ventricles.
The left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood towards the organs; the right ventricle pumps deoxygenated blood to the lungs, where it will be oxygenated again. Now back in the left atrium, the blood is pumped into the left ventricle to be sent to all peripheral organs.
Oxygenated blood flows in very elastic vessels similar to non-rigid pipes called arteries. Blood flowing from the heart through the arteries generates arterial pressure, which can be measured with two values: systolic (the upper number) and diastolic (the lower number).
Deoxygenated blood coming from the organs now contains very little oxygen and several waste products; it flows back to the heart through semi-rigid pipe-like vessels, the veins.