Here are some amazing facts about the heart to educate you on the incredible functions this muscular organ operates to keep your body moving:
Your heart beats 100,000 times a day, 35 million times a year. During an average lifetime, the human heart will beat more than three billion times.
The adult heart pumps five quarts of blood each minute throughout the body – adding up to approximately 2,000 gallons of blood each day. During your lifetime, it will pump about 800 million pints of blood or about one million barrels – that’s enough to fill more than three super tankers.
Blood takes about 20 seconds to circulate throughout the entire vascular system.
A typical athlete’s heart churns out up to eight gallons of blood per minute.
Hold out your hand and make a fist. If you’re a kid, your heart is about the same size as your fist, and if you’re an adult, it’s about the same size as two fists.
Your body has about five liters (six quarts) of blood circulating through the body three times every minute. In one day, the blood travels a total of 12,000 miles – which is roughly four times the distance across the U.S. from coast to coast.
Your system of blood vessels – arteries, veins and capillaries – is over 60,000 miles long. That’s long enough to go around the world more than twice!
An adult woman’s heart weighs about eight ounces, a man’s about ten ounces.
Put your hand on your heart. Did you place your hand on the left side of your chest? Many people do, but the heart is actually located almost in the center of the chest, between the lungs. It’s tipped slightly so that a part of it sticks out and taps against the left side of the chest, which is what makes it seem as though it is located there.
Give a tennis ball a good, hard squeeze. You’re using about the same amount of force your heart uses to pump blood out to the body. Even at rest, the muscles of the heart work hard-twice as hard as the leg muscles of a person sprinting.
Feel your pulse by placing two fingers at pulse points on your neck or wrists. The pulse you feel is blood stopping and starting as it moves through your arteries. As a kid, your resting pulse might range from 90 to 120 beats per minute. As an adult, your pulse rate slows to an average of 72 beats per minute.
The aorta, the largest artery in the body, is almost the diameter of a garden hose. Capillaries, on the other hand, are so small that it takes ten of them to equal the thickness of a human hair.
The structure of the heart was first described in 1706, by Raymond de Viessens, a French anatomy professor.
The electrocardiograph (ECG) was invented in 1902 by Dutch physiologist Willem Einthoven. This test is still used to evaluate the heart’s rate and rhythm.
The first heart specialists emerged after World War I.
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Resources for Amazing Heart Facts
Topol EJ (ed). Cleveland Clinic Heart Book (2000) New York: Hyperion.
Topol EJ (ed). Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine (1998), Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven.