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and Physiology (click on image to enlarge)
heart is the muscular pump of the circulatory system.
A three-layer sac known as the pericardium surrounds it.
The heart has 4 chambers - right and left atrium, right
and left ventricle. It weighs about 12 ounces, is
6 inches long, and 4 inches wide, beats 2½ billion times
in the average lifetime, and pumps 7000 quarts of blood daily
through 60,000 miles of blood vessels. The heart rests
½ second between beats. Even though it is only 1/200th
of the body weight, it uses 1/20th of the blood supply.
At rest the heart pumps 4-5 liters per minute, this can
increase to 20-30 liters with heavy exercise.
blood from the body enters the heart through the right atrium,
goes through the tricuspid valve to the right ventricle,
through the semi lunar valve and is pumped to the lungs.
There it picks up oxygen and goes to left atrium, through
the mitral valve to the left ventricle, through the semi lunar
valve to the rest of the body.
of the atrium helps pump blood into the ventricles, though about
70% of the blood goes in before contraction takes place.
With ventricular contraction, the A-V valves (tricuspid and mitral)
are closed to prevent backflow to the atrium. During this
time blood collects in the atrium. Ventricular contraction
also causes the semi lunar (aortic and pulmonary) valves to be
pushed open for blood to leave the heart. As blood enters
the large arteries the pressure builds up and shuts the semi lunar
valves. The blood buildup in the atrium then forces the
A-V valves open and the cycle repeats.
listening with a stethoscope the low-pitched sound (or 1st heart
sound) is caused by the A-V valves closing to prevent backflow
from the ventricles, while the rapid snap second sound is that
of the aortic and pulmonary valves closing to prevent backflow
from the arteries to the ventricles.
are 3 muscle fibers in the heart: atrial, ventricular (both are
like skeletal muscle), and conductive fibers. The normal
heart beats about 72 times per minute. Intense parasympathetic
stimulation can decrease it to 20-30 beats per minute. An excessive potassium and sodium ion in the extra cellular fluid also slows
the heart. Intense sympathetic stimulation can increase
the heart rate to 250-300 beats per minute. Excessive calcium
in the extra cellular fluid also speeds the heart.
S-A node in the right atrium controls the heart rate by generating
action potentials at the rate of about 72 per minute. The
S-A node fibers go into the atrium causing it to contract.
The fibers also stimulate the A-V node which delays the impulse
about 1/10th of a second before it travels through the Purkinje
fibers to cause the ventricles to contract.
and sympathetic fibers attach to the S-A and A-V nodes to change
the heart rate when necessary. Pressure on the spinal nerves
from the upper thoracic spine can irritate the sympathetic fibers
and effect the heart rate.
exercise over many weeks and months will cause the heart muscle
to hypertrophy and the chambers of the ventricles to enlarge.
This increases the effectiveness of the heart by allowing it to
pump more blood with each beat, thus less beats are needed.
Heavy exercise will also cause more blood vessels to the heart
to be built to increase its food supply. This will also
decrease the likelihood of heart attack. The arteries supplying
the heart are known as the coronary arteries.
of Heart Dysfunction
the ages of 16-20 years over ½ the population show evidence of
hardening of the arteries. Symptoms of heart dysfunction
can include irregular heart beat, pain in the chest that may travel
down the left arm, fatigue with exertion, being easily winded,
coughing frequently, restless, pale, increased anxiety, swelling
in the lower legs.
is a pressure or squeezing sensation especially in the mid or
upper sternal region. It can radiate to the neck, jaw, and
teeth, and will increase after meals, during exercise, and with
of Heart Dysfunction
the U.S. there are over 1 million deaths per year due to coronary
heart disease. It is estimated that over 10 million Americans
suffer from this disease. Causes include:
Smoking increases the risk of heart disease. Nicotine increases
the fatty buildup on arterial walls causing vasoconstriction and
decreased blood flow, thus increasing your susceptibility to heart
attack. Women smokers are nine times more likely to die
from coronary heart disease than non-smokers. Deaths in
general from coronary heart disease are 70% higher in smokers.
Caffeine can lead to ventricular fibrillation and possible heart
attacks. People that drink at least six cups of coffee a
day increase their risk of heart disease by 120%.
A diet high in sugar will cause platelets to clump, damage to
arteriole walls, and eventually hardening of the arteries.
Diets high in refined carbohydrates (white sugar, white flour,
etc.) can cause the liver to over manufacture cholesterol.
Birth control pills, estrogen replacement therapy, long-term intake
of vitamin D pills, all increase the likelihood of heart problems.
A diet too high in protein (over 15% of the total food intake)
increases cardiac output by 30% to aid digestion. This if
done habitually can overwork the heart. Evidence also suggests
that increased protein intake will increase cholesterol levels
and hardening of the arteries.
A toxic bowel won't be able to eliminate cholesterol well and
can lead to fatty deposits in the blood vessels.
A person with an under active thyroid will have an increased amount
of blood fat and be more susceptible to heart attacks (see thyroid
Hypoadrenia causing lowered aldosterone output can cause cardiac
arrhythmias as can ileocecal valve syndrome (see respective chapters).
Nerve pressure in the upper thoracic spine can cause heart problems
(see Appendix A).
A vitamin B deficiency can cause heart palpitations.
Ulcer patients fed a high milk diet have twice the incidence of
heart attacks as ulcer patients not on a high milk diet.
Vegetarian Seventh-day Adventists suffer from 84% less coronary
heart disease than the general population (they abstain from tobacco,
caffeine, alcohol, and meat). Non-vegetarian Seventh-day Adventists
suffer from 45% less coronary heart disease. Meat eating
thus appears to be a causative factor in heart problems.
A lack of magnesium appears to produce heart problems. Low
hydrochloric acid, high protein diet, dairy products, and a diet
high in refined foods, all tend to produce magnesium deficiencies.
Fat in the blood damages arterial walls and causes hardening of
the arteries. Diets high in either animal fat or vegetable
fat (oils, margarine, etc.) tend to create this change.
Alcohol, vegetable oil, and margarine, all cause red blood cells
to clump together. This can block blood flow to capillaries
and cause decreased oxygen supply, damage to the circulatory system
and cells it supplies nutrients to.
Hardening of the arteries due to any of the above causes or any
other factor that decreases oxygen supply can cause angina.
Not dressing warmly enough can stimulate angina.
A hiatal hernia can mimic heart problems (see stomach chapter).
A hypertonic nodule on the right pectoralis major muscle between
the 5th and 6th ribs may cause increased heart rate and premature
contractions. Deactivating the nodule by deep manual pressure
for 2 minutes will cause the symptoms to cease. A hypertonic
nodule on the left pectoralis major can cause pain radiation down
the left arm mimicking heart problems. When deactivating
these palpate for the exact location (it should initially be quite
tender and aggravate the symptoms with pressure) and put sustained
pressure on while the muscle is in a stretched position.
Indications of Heart Dysfunction
In a normally functioning circulatory system your pulse should
be under 75 beats per minute and feel equal on both sides.
Your blood pressure should be under 130/85.
and Treatment of Heart Dysfunction
Abstain from tobacco, caffeine, meat, refined fats (lard, margarine,
and oil), and sugar.
Don't overeat in general and don't overeat protein or fat.
Get your weight down to a normal level. For every 5 pounds
of extra weight you carry your body needs 4 more miles of blood
Minimize salt intake to help maintain blood pressure. Don't
take vitamin D supplements or vitamin D enriched milk (avoiding
all milk and cheese is ideal).
Sunlight can cause cholesterol on the skin to change to vitamin
D. As you get more and more sunlight the body will bring
more cholesterol to the surface. A two-hour sunbath can
lower serum cholesterol levels by 13%. Sunlight can also
lower blood pressure between 6-40mm. and this drop will last 5-6
days. Pulse rate will also decrease.
Make sure your thyroid, adrenals; liver, and colon are all working
correctly and not causing heart dysfunction.
Exercise will strengthen the heart muscle allowing each beat to
pump more blood. Less beats are needed and the heart will
get the "rest" it needs. Exercise will decrease
your resting pulse and blood pressure. Exercise will also
build up your collateral circulation growing more blood vessels
to the heart to supply it with oxygen and nutrients. This
decreases the likelihood of coronary heart disease.