The Blueprints to Your Heart
The human heart is a marvel of many specialized systems designed to keep you healthy – and alive.
Just as specific parts of a house may require check ups or repairs from a plumber, electrician, or architect, different heart diseases require different specialists.
The heart is structured to collect and direct blood.
- The rooms of your heart are called "chambers", where blood collects before moving with each heartbeat.
- The walls and foundation are made of muscle and other tissues.
Heart surgeons are called in to review and repair structural problems, such as:
- Congenital heart disease: These are abnormalities of the heart present from birth, such as holes in the wall of the heart.
- Valvular disease: Faulty or leaky valves may need to be repaired or replaced.
Electrical pulses trigger heartbeats, which are synchronized contractions of the heart muscle that pump blood to all other parts of the body.
- An electrical generator, called the sinus node, produces the electrical pulses.
- Circuits made up of individual heart cells carry the electrical signals throughout the heart. Abnormalities in these circuits can make the heart go too fast or too slow.
Electrophysiologists manage electrical pulses through surgery on abnormal circuits or by implanting pacemakers or defibrillators to keep a heart beating correctly.
The heart is the home base for an entire network of blood vessels that bring blood to and from the heart.
- The pipes carry oxygen-rich blood where it is needed and oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart and lungs.
- The valves are like one-way doors, designed to let blood flow in only one direction.
Interventional cardiologists work on the "plumbing" of the heart, keeping blood flowing by opening blockages using balloons and stents.