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Mid-semester essay exam notes - Heart

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Monash University

V1.3 Heart The heart is a vital organ in the body that provides continuous blood circulation through the cardiac cycle. The heart is divided into four main chambers: the two upper chambers are called the left atrium and the right atrium, and the two lower chambers are called the right and left ventricle. There is a thick wall of muscle separating the right side and the left side of the heart called the septum. Normally with each heartbeat, the right ventricle pumps the same amount of blood into the lungs than the left ventricle pumps out into the body. A double-walled protective sac, known as the pericardium, surrounds the heart. The pericardium protects the heart from physical knocks and shocks, and from infection. It anchors its surrounding structures, but has no effect over the heart function in normal individuals. The superficial part of this sac is called the parietal pericardium. The inner pericardium layer is called the visceral pericardium. Together, they are known as the serous pericardium because they contain the pericardial fluid. This pericardial fluid provides a smooth lubricated sliding surface within which the heart can move in response to its own contractions and to movement of the diaphragm and lungs. The outer wall of the human heart is composed of three layers. The outer layer is called the epicardium, where its major constituent is connective tissue and functions as a protective layer. The middle layer is called the myocardium, which is composed of contractile cardiac muscles. The cells that make up cardiac muscles are called cardiomyocytes, which contain only one nucleus. Cardiomyocytes have a high mitochondrial density, which allows them to produce ATP quickly, making them highly resistant to fatigue, which is important in the heart, as it is constantly beating. The inner layer is called the endocardium and is in contact with the blood that the heart pumps. The endocardium also provides protection to the valves and heart
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