As far as organs go, the heart is a pretty important one. Okay – as far as anything goes, your heart is pretty important. Without your heart, well, you wouldn’t be reading this article, now would you? When it comes to health topics, the heart should always be the first stop, because it is the one thing you don’t want to stop. Keep your heart going strong, and then worry about everything else after that.
Considering the tremendous importance that the heart has in your health picture, it is somewhat surprising how poorly it is treated by many people. While people will go to great lengths to take care of things like their cars or their homes, they often don’t think twice about what they are doing to the heart. Sadly, heart disease is among the leading killers of adults in the modern world, highlighting just how important it is to care for this part of your anatomy.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 15 things that you may not have known about your heart. Hopefully, these facts will send you away with a newfound appreciation for this muscle, and a determination to care for yours as best as possible.
1. Around 100,000 Beats – Per Day
If you think you work hard when you punch in at the office each morning, try comparing your workload to what your heart takes on each day. Depending on an individual’s heart rate, the heart can beat around 100,000 times per day. And, of course, that’s every day of the week.
Your heart doesn’t get to call in sick, and it certainly doesn’t get paid vacation. When you think about just how much work your heart is asked to do every day, you will likely be far more motivated to take care of it properly.
2. It Loves Exercise
In terms of overall heart health, there is nothing quite like physical activity. Exercise is considered to be the biggest key to keeping your heart healthy, and you don’t have to pay a greedy drug company for it, either.
Those who regularly stay active can dramatically reduce their risk of a heart problem. Of course, your heart doesn’t really care what kind of exercise you get, so feel free to engage in whatever it is that you happen to enjoy (and can do safely, of course).
3. Left and Right Sides Have Different Jobs
Unless you’re a doctor, you may not have ever thought about what each side of your heart is responsible for doing with each beat. The right side of your heart is tasked with sending blood into your lungs, while the left side moves it back into your body. Obviously, the two sides need to be working in perfect coordination to allow your system to run as it should throughout the day and night.
4. Shocking Volume
During the average lifetime, the heart will move a total of approximately one million barrels of blood throughout your body.
If you think it takes a lot of gas to keep your vehicle running week after week, that amount of fuel is just a drop in the bucket compared to what your body requires to keep on moving. And the heart is required to move every single ounce of it, throughout your entire life. No wonder it likes to exercise.
5. Run the Tap
This fact is an add-on to the previous note, but it’s interesting nonetheless. In order for the average kitchen tap to fill as many barrels of blood as are pumped through the body during an average lifetime, it would need to be left on for an incredible 45 years.
While that’s amazing to consider, don’t be tempted to see what that looks like by running your tap for the next four decades. You would not like your water bill.
6. It Doesn’t Need You
Do you need your heart? Yes, of course. However, did you know that your heart doesn’t really need you?
As long as it has oxygen, the heart can continue to beat even outside of the body because it has its own electrical impulse that is used to create the beating action. Don’t think about this fact for too long or it just might make your brain wiggle. Nobody wants to imagine their heart outside of their body, anyway.
7. It Puts Your Gym Routine to Shame
If you hit the gym on a regular basis, you might be impressed with yourself in terms of how much you can bench, or curl, or squat. Don’t get too full of your yourself, however, because none of those muscles can hold a candle to your heart. Even if you whip your biceps or quadriceps into impressive condition, they will never do anywhere near as much work during a lifetime as your heart.
8. How Many Trillion?
Once a number gets up into the trillions, it’s hard to even get your head around it – so you can be forgiven if you have trouble comprehending the fact that your body has somewhere around 75 trillion cells. 75 trillion! And, even at that lofty number, your heart is required to supply blood to almost all of them – with your corneas being the notable exception.
9. A Long Road
If you wanted to drive from coast to coast in the United States, you would have to log around 3,000 or so miles, depending on the route that you choose. That might sound like a long drive, but that would be a walk in the park for your heart. The circulatory system that your heart has to serve with blood would stretch out for 60,000 miles if laid end to end.
10. It Can Attack in Different Ways Based on Gender
Heart attacks are an extremely dangerous health problem, and they are one of the leading killers of adults today. However, did you know that they feel differently for women than men? In men, it is usually chest pains that signal the onset of a heart attack. However, for women, it can be things like nausea, shoulder aches, and indigestion. Knowing the signs that you are likely to experience can help you respond quickly and hopefully receive medical attention in time.
11. It Likes Chocolate!
Not only does your heart like exercise, but it seems to like chocolate as well. People who each a modest amount of dark chocolate on a daily basis appear to reduce their likelihood of heart disease by around 33%.
Now that’s a health plan that most people can get behind without reservation.
12. It Isn’t Actually on the Left
One of the common ‘facts’ tossed around by some people regarding the heart is that it can be found on the left side of the body. That, however, is not true.
Instead, the heart is right where you would expect it to be – in the middle of the body. This makes sense, of course, since the heart has to supply all parts of the body will blood.
13. Smoking Is a Disaster
At least in terms of heart health, anyway. When you smoke regularly, your risk of a heart attack will increase by an incredible 200% – 400%.
Obviously, you shouldn’t need any additional motivation to quit smoking, since cigarettes have long been associated with just about every negative health outcome possible. However, if you were waiting for one more fact before you tossed those cigarettes out for good, let it be this one.
14. It Doesn’t Like Work
While exercise is great for your heart, sitting at a desk pounding out the long hours doesn’t seem to be. Those who work long hours at the office – 11 or more per day – are at a significantly greater risk of heart attack than those who work just 8 hours. This is likely related to the additional stress that is taken on when work becomes such a main focus in your life. Also, spending that much time at work doesn’t leave much other time for heart-healthy activities like exercise.
15. You Only Have One
Okay – so this is a fact you already knew. However, it’s important to remember that you only get one heart, and you need to take care of it to the best of your ability in order to keep it working properly well into the future!