Everyone knows the heart - it’s one of the hardest working organs in the body, beating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year keeping us alive. Although the heart may seem like a simple organ, made up out of two halves and four chambers, it is capable of incredibly complex things. It’s fascinating to uncover just what it can do and how it works to keep us alive.
The right half of your heart receives ‘deoxygenated blood’ which is pumped through the lungs to collect a fresh supply of oxygen before travelling to the left side of the heart to pump the blood all around the body. The blood can only travel one way because the heart has valves that prevent the blood from flowing back the way it came. The “dub-dub” sound of your heartbeat comes from these valves opening and closing! Below are 5 mind-blowing facts about your heart!
Your heart can keep beating even if it is separated from the body!
Your heart doesn’t stop beating if it’s separated from the body. It has the ability to carry on beating independently of the brain as long as it has access to oxygen and can survive up to four hours after separation. This is what allows surgeons enough time to perform life-saving heart transplant surgeries.
However, scientists at Sweden's Lund University have made a major breakthrough on the creation of a heart-lung machine which provides the donor heart with oxygen and could potentially extend this time frame up to 12 hours!
Your heartbeat changes and mimics the music you listen to!
Your heart rate can change to match the music you’re listening to, but whether it increases or decreases depends on the tempo of the music you’re listening to. Listening to music such as classical music has a calming effect and slows your heart rate while music with higher tempos such as techno increases your heart rate.
Studies performed at Massachusetts General Hospital and in medical facilities in Hong Kong showed that people who listened to music for 20 to 30 minutes each day had a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure compared to those who didn’t.
Your heart pumps blood through more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels!
Your heart works hard to continuously pump blood around the body delivering oxygen, food and hormones. The blood your heart pumps will travel through 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the average adult. To put this into perspective the Earth’s circumference is only 24,901 miles. This means the average adult’s blood vessels can wrap around the Earth almost three times!
One drop of blood contains more than 300 million blood cells and an individual blood cell only takes about 1 minute to travel from the heart, around the body and back to the heart again!
The heart beats over 100,000 times a day!
Every minute the average adult’s heart beats around 70 times a minute. That adds up to 4,200 times an hour and 100,000 times a day. It never stops and as the heart beats it pushes the blood out of the heart and into the arteries leading to the rest of the body to supply it with oxygen.
Your heart also beats faster as and when you need it, such as when you’re exercising for example. If you’re resting heart rate is around 70 beats per minute it will increase to around 95 when you’re walking, 140 when jogging and around 180 when sprinting!
A blue whale’s heart is the largest heart in the world!
Blue Whales can measure up to 30 meters long and weigh up to 173 tonnes, so it isn’t surprising that they have the largest hearts in the world, they need it to pump all the blood around their massive bodies. The arteries alone are so big that an adult human can swim through them and their hearts can weigh up to 590 kgs (1,300lbs)! To give you an idea of just how big a Blue Whale’s heart is, they are about the same size as a Volkswagen Beetle!
A Blue Whale’s heart also beats on average 8-10 times per minute (a dolphin’s at 35-45 beats per minute and a human’s at 70 beats per minute) which can be heard up to 2 miles away!