The heart begins beating five weeks after conception and keeps beating until the day a person dies. It beats continuously at a rate of almost 100,000 times a day.
It weighs less than one pound and is only slightly larger than a human fist. The heart is located under the ribcage, and divided into four chambers:
- Two atria— the upper chambers that receive blood
- Two ventricles— the lower chambers that pump blood through the 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the body.
The heart is essential in supplying oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for nearly 41% of all deaths. Approximately 61,800,000 Americans have one or more forms of heart disease.
It has been reported that:
- 25,000 people will suffer a heart attack in the next 7 days
- 6,000 people will have no symptoms or warning signs prior to the heart attack
- 680 people will die today as a result of a sudden heart attack
- 1 in 5 people will die of heart disease
Risk factors can help determine an individual’s chance of developing heart disease. The risk factors include things that the individual can change as well as things that they can’t change. Although there are medications to treat cardiovascular diseases, the best approach is to control as many risk factors as possible to help prevent these diseases from occurring. Patients should eat a balanced diet, exercise, not smoke and limit alcohol intake.