Your heart is a muscle and it is located a little to the left of the middle of your chest.
The heart muscle is so important because of what it does for your body. The heart pumps blood throughout your body, providing your body with the oxygen and nutrients required to sustain life. It also carries away waste, sort of like taking out the trash after it buys you dinner.
The right side of your heart receives blood from the body and pumps it to the lungs. The left side of the heart does the exact opposite: It receives blood from the lungs and pumps it out to the body
Have you ever heard the old saying, "be still my beating heart"? Well, the heart is anything but still. Before each beat, your heart fills with blood. Then its muscle contracts to push the blood along. When the heart contracts, it squeezes - try squeezing a tennis ball firmly with your hand. That's what your heart is doing constantly, never taking a break throughout your entire life, so it can push blood throughout your body and give it what it needs. Your heart does this all day and all night, all the time. The heart is one hard worker!
The heart is made up of four chambers, two on each side of the heart. One chamber is on the top and one chamber is on the bottom. The two on top are called the atria. The atria are the chambers that fill with the blood returning to the heart from the body and lungs.
On the bottom, we have the two chambers known as ventricles. The heart has a left ventrical and a right ventical. Their job is to deliver blood to the body and lungs. Running down the middle of the heart is a thick wall of muscle called the septum. The septum's job is to separate the left side and the right side of the heart.
The atria and ventricles work together - the atria fill with blood, then dump it into the ventricles. The ventricles then squeeze, pumping blood out of the heart. While the ventricles are squeezing, the atria refill and get ready for the next contraction. So when the blood gets pumped, how does it know which way to go?
Well, your blood uses four special valves inside the heart. The mitral valve, tricuspid valve pulmonary valve and aortic valve.
These valves all work to keep the blood flowing forward. They open up to let the blood move ahead, then they close quickly to keep the blood from flowing backward.
You probably guessed that the blood just doesn't slosh around your body. Once it leaves the heart. It travels through your arteries and veins, which combined are called the blood vessels. These blood vessels are attached to the heart. The blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart are called arteries. The ones that carry blood back to the heart are called veins.
The movement of the blood through the heart and around the body is called circulation, and your heart is really good at it. It's so good at it that it takes less than 60 seconds to pump blood to every cell in your body.
Your body needs this steady supply of blood to keep it working right. Blood delivers oxygen to all the body's cells. To stay alive, a person needs healthy, living cells. Without oxygen, these cells would die. If that oxygen-rich blood doesn't circulate as it should, a person could die.
Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.