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ARNICLES

DIAGNOSING HEART DISEASE: EXTERNAL EXAMINATION

THE IMPENDING HEART ATTACK AND THE ACUTE STAGE: WHAT SHOULD THE PATIENT AND RELATIVES NOT DO?

THE HEART'S WORK

HEART DISEASE: VISITING YOUR PHYSICIAN

THE IMPENDING HEART ATTACK AND THE ACUTE STAGE: WHAT CAN RELATIVES DO IF A HEART ATTACK IS SUSPECTED?

THE MYOCARDIUM (HEART MUSCLE): THE CARDIAC CYCLE

SYMPTOMS OF HEART DISEASE: BREATHLESSNESS, HEARTBEAT AND FAINTING

THE IMPENDING HEART ATTACK AND THE ACUTE STAGE: THE DANGERS OF THE FIRST HOURS

THE MYOCARDIUM (HEART MUSCLE): THE ATRIA & THE VENTRICLES

THE HEART VALVES: LOCATION AND STRUCTURE OF THE VALVES

THE MYOCARDIUM (HEART MUSCLE): THE ATRIA & THE VENTRICLES

The atria are the small receiving chambers for blood returning from the body (right atrium) or from the lungs (left atrium). Although the atria contract, their contraction is relatively weak and serves mainly to push blood into the ventricles.

Most people's hearts could pump sufficient blood throughout the body even if the atria did not contract at all. However, the beating of the atria contributes to the overall efficiency of the heart and allows it to pump more blood with less effort. This added efficiency is particularly important if disease damages other parts of the heart that are responsible for pumping.

Each atrium is about the size of a golf ball, or slightly larger. The walls of the right atrium are less than 1\8 inch thick. The left atrial wall is thicker and more powerful than the right atrial wall, but its volume is about the same.

The Ventricles

The ventricles are the main pumping chambers that propel the blood to the lungs (from the right ventricle) and to the body (from the left ventricle). Each holds about 1/8 cup of blood after the heart contracts and about 1/2 cup after the heart is filled.

The walls of the right ventricle are 1\4 inch thick. The walls of the left venŽtricle are three times thicker; the left ventricle is thus by far the most powerŽful chamber in the heart. The left venŽtricle must generate enough pressure

to drive the blood to every part of the body.

*25\252\8*

Cardio & Blood

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