Heart: Anatomy and Function

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Heart’s main function is to pump blood throughout the whole body. The heart is made up of four chambers: an atrium and ventricle on both the left and right sides. “Veins from all parts of the body flows blood to the heart and into the right atrium. From the right atrium, the blood flows into the right ventricle, where it is pumped out to the person’s lungs to receive oxygen. Oxygen-rich blood is then returned to the person’s left atrium, flows into their left ventricle, and is pumped into their arteries, returning to various veins in their body (Coronary Artery Disease – Fats, Diagnosis, and Treatments, 2009).” One of the reasons that the heart is the most vital organ to the human body is because the blood flow only happens through one heartbeat. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a disease in which “waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries (Coronary Heart Disease, 2018).” Plaque consist of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other material found in the blood stream. Normally, the job of coronary arteries is to supply blood and oxygen to the muscles of the heart.

In patients who have CHD, coronary arteries have built up plaque a process called Atherosclerosis which narrows the pathway of bring oxygen and blood to the heart which leads to chest pain or angina. The process may cause blood cloths that can restrict further blood flow to the heart and body which can increase the chances of angina. There are many types of medical interventions to get rid of the plaque buildup at the coronary arteries. One type of intervention is a surgical one called Coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG). According to American Heart Association, CABG is performed by removing a blood vessel from arms or legs and using it to create a bypass around the plaque artery (Answers by Heart, 2017). The result of bypass surgery is an increase blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle to perform all the essential functions for the human body.

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Smoking is an act of inhaling carcinogens that is rolled in a cigarette. Individuals who smoke can increase the chances of getting cancer and heart disease. With any type of heart surgery or high invasive surgery, surgeons typically prep patients to quit smoking before the procedure to prevent any risks that cigarettes can bring fourth during and after the procedure. According to The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, smoking can cause higher incidence of pulmonary complications following CABG as compared to non-smokers (2008). Therefore, surgeons teach patients to stop smoking at least a year before the surgery takes place to have lasting results or the patient will not be accepted for CABG type of procedure. For example, my father in law, had been diagnosed with Coronary Artery disease at age 32 and was declined the procedure because he had been a long-time smoker. If the surgeon was to perform the surgery, the chances of death occurring was very high. Therefore, most of his life, the medication that he was taking on a regular basis was Nitroglycerin (NTG) or Aspirin. Nitroglycerin is a vasodilator, a medicine that opens the blood vessels to improve blood flow (Using Nitroglycerin for Angina, 2011).

It is prescribed to patients, to treat angina and to reduce how hard the heart must perform a simply task. Since some patients don’t require surgery or are on a waiting list, smoking cigarettes still influences potency of the medication. According to Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology Journal, long-term smoking causes NTG resistance to aggregation in platelets, possibly through the depletion of intraplatelet GSH (2001). Another medication that may be prescribe to individuals with cardiac disease is Aspirin. Aspirin helps prevent blood clots from forming and helps prevent heart attack (Aspirin and Heart Disease, 2017).” Blood clots can block arteries in addition with plaque buildup in those same arteries. Even though mediations may be taken for the rest of a person life, it will not treat the disease. Mediations are prescribing to alleviate the pain that comes from the disease. I believe when the patient listens to the surgeon about cessation of smoking, surgery may be a more viable option then just taking medication for the rest of the patient’s life.

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood moving throughout the circulatory system. It mainly consists of two numbers: the number on top is the systolic blood pressure which is the highest level the blood reaches when the heart beats and the bottom number is the lowest level the blood pressure against the blood vessels during heart relaxation. From diagram 1, individuals can measure their blood pressure and categorize whether medical intervention is needed (Blood Pressure Readings, 2017).

Maintaining an optimal blood pressure levels for patients who are diagnosed with CAD is a viable factor to reduce further heart attacks or angina. “Cigarette smoking raises your blood pressure and heart rate, narrows your arteries and hardens their walls, and makes your blood more likely to clot. It stresses your heart and sets you up for a heart attack or stroke (Smoking and Blood Pressure: Why and How to Quit, 2018).” Therefore, if an individual is diagnosed with any type of medical disease, smoking is highly advising to be stop for that individual. Individuals who have CAD who don’t smoke, have less medial intervention to lower blood pressure. For example, medications that lower blood pressure can have a better effect on patients who don’t smoke as opposed to individuals who do smoke and require multiple blood pressure mediations.

Learning about CAD in the medical field is important because any type of heart disease is the number one killer of humans in the world. Nurses who are educated about CAD can satisfy the patient’s needs, lower levels of anxiety and depression, increase patient compliance to treatment, and improved the quality of life for the patient. For example, when my father in law was staying at UCLA Medical on the telemetry floor, he would ask a bunch of questions to the medical team about his condition which would lessen his anxiety about treatment options and educate him about his disease. It’s important for any nurse to understand the inner workings of the heart, as it serves as the fundamental and vital system responsible for keeping the very nature of the human body intact. Every beat keeps the body alive and saturated with life supplying oxygen and nutrients. With this in mind, the importance of this organ cannot be undervalued, for without the heart, life will quite literally cease, and it goes without doubt that understanding the diseases that can have adverse effects on this precious organ must be understood as well to insure the livelihood and wellbeing of those who have complications in this region.

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Heart: Anatomy and Function. (2022, May 14). Retrieved from


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