- 4 Main Functions
- Structure & Anatomy
- Common Heart Diseases
- What Is Catheterization
- Catheterization Uses
What are the four main functions of the heart?
The four main functions of the heart are:
What is the structure of the human heart?
The heart is a muscular organ situated in the chest just behind and slightly toward the left of the breastbone. It roughly measures the size of a closed fist. The heart works all the time, pumping blood through the network of blood vessels called the arteries and veins. The heart and its blood vessels are known as the cardiovascular system.
The heart has four chambers. The upper two chambers are called the atria, whereas the lower two chambers are known as the ventricles. The right atrium and right ventricle are referred to as the right heart, whereas the left atrium and left ventricle are referred to as the left heart. The various chambers of the heart are separated by partitions, each of which is called a septum.
- The right atrium receives deoxygenated blood from the body and pumps it to the right ventricle.
- The right ventricle gets blood from the right atrium and pumps it to the lungs to load it with oxygen.
- The left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it to the left ventricle.
- The left ventricle is the strongest chamber of the heart. It pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.
The flow of blood into the heart, within the heart chambers, and from the heart is guarded by the four valves present in the heart. The heart gets its nutrients and oxygen via the coronary arteries that run along the surface of the heart. It is also richly supplied by a web of nerve tissue that facilitates the rhythmic heartbeat. The heart is enclosed within a fluid-filled sac called the pericardium. The pericardium is a protective covering that produces fluid, which lubricates the heart and prevents friction between the heart and the surrounding organs.
What are the medical conditions related to the heart?
Some of the common diseases of the heart are:
- Coronary artery disease (CAD): The narrowing of the arteries supplying blood to the heart (coronary arteries). If the arteries develop complete blockage from a suddenly lodged blood clot, the condition is called a heart attack.
- Stable angina pectoris: Chest pain due to insufficient blood supply to the heart from doing strenuous physical activity. The reason is due to narrowed coronary arteries that are unable to supply sufficient oxygen-rich blood to the heart during exertion. Typically, there is relief from symptoms upon rest.
- Unstable angina pectoris: Chest pain or discomfort is new in onset, worsening or occurring even at rest. Unstable angina pectoris is an emergency as it may precede a heart attack, serious abnormal heart rhythm or cardiac arrest.
- Myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack): When a coronary artery is suddenly blocked, some of the heart muscles die as they are starved of oxygen.
- Arrhythmia (dysrhythmia): Ann abnormal heart rhythm, which may interfere with the ability of the heart to pump blood effectively.
- Congestive heart failure (CHF): In CHF, the heart is unable to pump blood to body tissues efficiently. The term congestive heart failure refers to the collection of fluid because of a failing heart.
- Cardiomyopathy: A disease of the heart muscles, which makes the heart abnormally large, thickened and/or stiff. As a result, it weakens the ability of the heart to pump blood.
- Myocarditis: The inflammation of the heart muscles.
- Pericarditis: The Inflammation of the covering of the heart (pericardium).
- Pericardial effusion: In this medical condition, there is a collection of fluid between the covering of the heart (pericardium) and the heart itself.
- Heart valve diseases: Diseases that affect the valves that direct flow of blood to the heart.
- Cardiac arrest: A sudden cessation of heart function.
What is the difference between left and right heart catheterization?
Cardiac catheterization, also known as cardiac cath or heart cath, is a procedure to examine the functioning of the heart.
A thin, narrow tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel of an arm or a leg, and is guided to the arteries of the heart using an X-ray camera. The doctor then injects contrast dye into the blood vessel through the catheter to get an X-ray view of the valves, arteries, and the heart chambers.
- Catheterization of the left side of the heart is performed by passing the catheter through the artery.
- In catheterization of the right side of the heart, the catheter passes through the veins.
Why is cardiac catheterization done?
Cardiac catheterization is done for diagnosing the following heart conditions:
- Atherosclerosis: Deposits of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and clotting materials, known as fibrin in the innermost layer of arteries (endothelium), which results in clogging of the arteries.
- Cardiomyopathy: Enlargement of the heart due to thickening or weakening of the heart muscle.
- Congenital heart disease: Defects in one or more heart structures formed during fetal development.
- Heart failure: A condition in which the heart muscles become too weak to pump blood well, leading to congestion in the blood vessels and lungs.
- Heart valve disease: Failure of one or more heart valves, leading to reduced blood flow within the heart.
- To determine the extent of coronary artery disease (CAD) in patients with confusing clinical presentations
Who should not undergo cardiac catheterization?
Patients with the following conditions shouldn’t undergo cardiac catheterization:
- Severe uncontrolled blood pressure
- Severe anemia
- Kidney failure
- Allergic to contrast dyes
- Heavy bleeding in the stomach and intestine
- Abnormal changes in the electrolytes
- Severe coagulopathy (impaired ability of the body to clot)
- Ventricular arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat in the heart chamber)
- Untreated infection or unexplained fever
How to prepare for a cardiac catheterization
Your physician will explain the procedure, along with its risks and benefits. In addition, you will also be instructed to do the following:
- Sign an informed consent
- What foods and liquids can be taken 24 hours before the test
- Fast for six to eight hours before the cath procedure
- Inform the doctor of any allergies to the dyes used in the cath procedure.
- Inform the doctor about any medical and medication history, especially any drug allergies.
- Stop taking specific medicines before the procedure.
- Ask someone to accompany you during the procedure.
What happens during a cardiac catheterization?
- Before the cath procedure, a nurse will put an intravenous (IV) line into the vein of the arm to inject sedatives to make you relax.
- Your doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the area, where the catheter goes in.
- The groin area is cleaned and shaved. The doctor will puncture your skin with a needle to gain access to the blood vessel.
- The doctor will insert an instrument known as an introducer sheath from which the catheter advances toward the blood vessels. You might feel some pressure. If you feel any pain, immediately inform the doctor.
- When the catheter reaches the arteries, it will inject a small amount of dye into the arteries.
- The X-ray camera will take pictures of your arteries and heart chambers. The catheter is removed gradually once the procedure ends.
What happens after cardiac catheterization?
You will be sent to the recovery room for a few hours. During this time:
- Pressure will be applied to the puncture site to stop bleeding
- You will have to lie straight on the bed.
- Your vital signs such as blood pressure and pulse will be checked during your recovery
- Inform the doctor about any swelling, pain, or bleeding at the puncture site.
How serious is a heart catheterization?
A heart cath is generally very safe. But as with any procedure, there are some risks with heart catheterization too.
Top What Are the Four Main Functions of the Heart Related Articles
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF): Symptoms, Causes, Stages, TreatmentCongestive heart failure (CHF) refers to a condition in which the heart loses the ability to function properly. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, myocarditis, and cardiomyopathies are just a few potential causes of congestive heart failure. Signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure may include fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations, angina, and edema. Physical examination, patient history, blood tests, and imaging tests are used to diagnose congestive heart failure. Treatment of heart failure consists of lifestyle modification and taking medications to decrease fluid in the body and ease the strain on the heart. The prognosis of a patient with congestive heart failure depends on the stage of the heart failure and the overall condition of the individual.
What Is a Coronary Angiogram?Coronary angiogram is an angiogram (an X-ray image of blood vessels filled with contrast material) used to diagnose coronary artery disease responsible for heart attacks, strokes, angina, and other coronary artery diseases. Coronary angiogram assists the physician in diagnosing and recommending treatment for coronary artery disease.
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG)Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is performed to relieve angina in individuals who have failed medical therapy and are not good candidates for angioplasty (PTCA). CABG surgery is ideal for individuals with multiple narrowings in multiple coronary artery branches. Mortality and complications increase with:
- older age,
- poor heart muscle function,
- disease obstructing the left main coronary artery,
- chronic kidney failure,
- and chronic lung disease.
How Is Coronary Heart Disease Diagosed?Coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease (CAD) screening tests can be used to potentially prevent a heart attack or cardiac event in a person without heart disease symptoms, and can assist in diagnosing heart disease in individuals with heart disease symptoms. Coronary heart disease tests can include electrocardiogram (ECC, EKG), exercise stress test, radionuclide stress test, stress echocardiography, pharmacologic stress test, CT coronary angiogram, and coronary angiogram.
What Is the Difference Between Electrocardiogram and Electrocardiograph?An electrocardiogram or electrocardiograph (ECG or EKG) are the same thing. An EKG is a test that examines the heart function by measuring the electrical activity of the heart. Based on the electrocardiogram, the doctor determines whether the electrical activity of the heart is normal or irregular, aiding in diagnosis of various heart problems.
Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction): Early Warning Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and TreatmentA heart attack occurs when a blood clot completely obstructs a coronary artery supplying blood to the heart muscle. Learn about warning signs, causes, complications, risk factors, and treatment.
Heart Disease: Warning Signs of Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to the heart. Heart disease can lead to heart attack. Risk factors for heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history
Angina, shortness of breath, and sweating are just a few symptoms that may indicate a heart attack. Treatment of heart disease involves control of heart disease risk factors through lifestyle changes, medications, and/or stenting or bypass surgery. Heart disease can be prevented by controlling heart disease risk factors.
Cardiac Arrest: What You Should KnowCardiac arrest is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate medical care. Use this WebMD slideshow to know whether you are at risk for cardiac arrest and what you can do if it happens to a loved one.
CAD SlideshowWhat is heart disease (coronary artery disease)? Learn about the causes of heart disease, arrhythmias and myopathy. Symptoms of heart disease include chest pain and shortness of breath. Explore heart disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Heart Failure QuizWhat is heart failure? Learn about this dangerous condition, as well as who is at risk, and what to do about it.
Heart Palpitations: 14 Possible Causes and Should You Worry?Heart palpitations are caused by stress, exercise, caffeine, nicotine, hormone changes, fever, medications, low blood sugar, overactive thyroid, heart rhythm problems, alcohol, PVCs, and illegal drugs. Doctors may use tests like an ECG, Holter monitor, event monitor, and electrocardiogram to help diagnose the underlying cause of heart palpitations.
Illustrations of the HeartThe muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body. See a picture of the Heart and learn more about the health topic.
Arrhythmias (Abnormal Heart Rhythms): Types, Triggers, Warning Signs, and TreatmentHeart rhythm disorders vary from minor palpitations, premature atrial contractions (PACs), premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), sinus tachycardia, and sinus bradycardia, to abnormal heart rhythms such as tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, ventricular flutter, atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome, brachycardia, or heart blocks. Treatment is dependent upon the type of heart rhythm disorder.
Cardiac Arrest QuizTake the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Quiz. Learning about this potentially deadly condition may save a life.
Survival Rate of Heart Valve Replacement SurgeryThe survival rate for a heart valve replacement surgery depends on which valve is involved. This was analyzed in a large study in which the lifespan of a large population, who went ahead with the surgery, is observed for a specific timeframe.
What Are The Four Heart Sounds?Heart sounds are generated by blood flowing in and out of the heart’s chambers through the valves as they open and close. Listening to the heart sounds through a stethoscope (auscultation) is one of the first steps a physician takes in evaluating a patient’s medical condition. Heart sounds provide the doctor valuable information about heart function. Auscultation is used to detect abnormal heart sounds and decide on further course of action.