Heart

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The heart is a muscular organ about the size of a fist, located in the chest. The heart pumps blood through the network of arteries and veins called the cardiovascular system.

The average healthy heart beats about 60 to 80 times per minute. Each beat sends about 2 ounces (60 milliliters) of blood coursing through the body. This activity supplies oxygen and nutrients to cells and removes carbon dioxide and other wastes.

The heart muscle needs a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients, which it gets from the blood that is pumped through the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries are two large arteries that encircle the heart and provide its blood supply. If these arteries become blocked, the heart muscle can't get the oxygen it needs, and a heart attack can occur.

The heart also needs a good supply of blood to remove its own waste products. The coronary veins carry oxygen-depleted blood from the heart muscle back to the heart, where it is then pumped to the lungs to pick up more oxygen.

The pulmonary arteries and veins carry this newly oxygenated blood from the lungs back to the heart, where it is then pumped out to the rest of the body.

The heart's electrical system controls the muscle contractions that pump blood through the heart. This electrical activity can be measured by an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Abnormalities in the heart's electrical activity can sometimes be a sign of heart disease.

The heart is a hard-working muscle that never gets a break. It's important to keep your heart healthy by exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding tobacco smoke and other substances that can damage the heart.