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Your Heart
How Heart Works
Causes
Complications
Facts
Risks

Structure of Human Heart

The human heart has a mass of between 250 and 350 grams and is about the size of a fist. It is enclosed in a double-walled protective sac called the pericardium. The double membrane of pericardium consist of the pericardial fluid which nourishes the heart and prevents from shocks. The superficial part of this sac is called the fibrous pericardium. The fibrous pericardial sac is itself lined with the outer layer of the serous pericardium (known as the parietal pericardium). This composite (fibrous-parietal-pericardial) sac protects the heart, anchors its surrounding structures, and prevents overfilling of the heart with blood. The inner layer also provides a smooth lubricated sliding surface within which the heart organ can move in response to its own contractions and to movement of adjacent structures such as the diaphragm and lungs.

At 21 days after conception, the human heart begins beating at 70 to 80 beats per minute and accelerates linearly for the first month of beating.

The outer wall of the human heart is composed of three layers. The outer layer is called the epicardium, or visceral pericardium since it is also the inner wall of the (serous) pericardium. The middle layer of the heart is called the myocardium and is composed of muscle which contracts. The inner layer is called the endocardium and is in contact with the blood that the heart pumps. Also, it merges with the inner lining (endothelium) of blood vessels and covers heart valves.

The human heart has four chambers, two superior atria and two inferior ventricles. The atria are the receiving chambers and the ventricles are the discharging chambers.

The pathways of blood through the human heart is part of the pulmonary and systemic circuits. These pathways include the tricuspid valve, the mitral valve, the aortic valve, and thepulmonary valve. The mitral and tricuspid valves are classified as the atrioventricular (AV) valves. This is because they are found between the atria and ventricles. The aortic and pulmonary semi-lunar valves separate the left and right ventricle from the pulmonary artery and the aorta respectively. These valves are attached to the chordae tendinae (literally the heartstrings), which anchors the valves to the papilla muscles of the heart.

The interatrioventricular septum separates the left atrium and ventricle from the right atrium and ventricle, dividing the heart into two functionally separate and anatomically distinct units.

 

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