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How Does the Heart Beat?

The less heart beats you use, the longer and better you will live.

Your heart beats through a source of electrical activity known as “electrical impulses”. This electrical system, also called the Cardiac Cycle, refers to one complete heartbeat from its generation to the next beat. 

What is the Heart’s Electrical System? 

Your heart is roughly the size of your fist and it is made up of four chambers. The upper chambers consist of the left and right atria. The lower chambers consist of the left and right ventricles.

The heart’s electrical system goes through a series of contraction and relaxation modes to pump blood through the heart’s atria and ventricles. Your heartbeats are trigged by electrical impulses that travel down a pathway in your heart. These electrical impulses are stimulated and regulated by your hearts own pacemaker also called the sinoatrial (SA) node.

How Exactly Does the Electrical System Cause the Heart to Beat? 

The blood in the upper chambers (right/ left atria) of your heart builds up and this triggers the sinoatrial node to send out electrical impulse that tells the atria to contract. Upon contraction, this pushes the blood through the heart and into the lower chambers (right/ left ventricles). This is part one of the pumping phase called Diastole.

Once the lower ventricles are filled with blood then electrical impulses signal the ventricles to contract. This phase is called Systole. Valves are opened and blood flows from the ventricles into the lungs to pick up oxygen. Oxygen-rich blood in the left ventricle then flows into the rest of the body.

The blood transfers into the aorta and then the ventricles relax and the valves close. This decrease in pressure (caused by the relaxation phase) causes valves to reopen and the cycle to begin again.

Each cycle (two phases) lasts roughly one second.

This cycle can increase contractions during exercise and decrease them during times of rest.

On average, the heart beats roughly 60-80 times per minute.

Your heart works in conjunction with other parts of your body. Your brain senses your environment, your activity and your stress and then adjusts accordingly within the cardiovascular system.

The heart’s conduction system is similar to that of an orchestra. It has finely tuned movements of different sections that come together in the end for a well-produced response.  

How Do You Know How Fast Your Heart is Beating? 

The frequency of the Cardiac Cycle is described by the heart rate. Each beat of the heart occurs in 5 main stages that depend on both contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle.

Your heart rate indicates how fast your heart is beating. Heart rate is defined as the speed of your heart beat. It is measured by the number of contractions that occur in your heart per minute (bpm).

On average, a normal resting heart rate is around 60-100 bpm. Usually, a lower heart rate at rest indicates good heart function and exceptional cardiovascular fitness. Again, the heart rate can vary depending on the body’s physiological needs.

What Are Some Disorders That Affect the Heart Beat? 

Fortunately, you don’t have to do much work to think about how your heart beats. In fact, you likely may not think about it at all. When it’s not working properly, however, just about everything in the body becomes affected.

Some disorders with how the heart beats include:

  • If you have a heart rate slower than 60 bpm it is known as bradycardia. This is a “slow heart beat”.
  • If you have a heart rate that is faster than 100 bpm this is known as tachycardia. This is called a “fast heart beat”.
  • If you have an erratic, or irregular heart beat this is known as atrial fibrillation. This is an irregular heart rate that prevents the atria from contracting and so it doesn’t kick out blood. Blood then pools and stands still. It is the most common type of heart beat disorder.

Takeaway Message: 

Think of your heart rate as being like the speed of your car. You don’t want your heart to beat too fast or too slow but rather, you want it to beat at a nice and steady pace.

Support your heart’s natural beating pattern with a healthy diet and lifestyle. And sign up for our free monthly newsletter to get more tips about how to care for your heart naturally, without prescription drugs or invasive procedures.

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