Sitting above the left and right ventricles are two small booster pumps called atria (or atrium, when you’re talking about just one). The right ventricle pumps deoxygenated blood from the body to the lungs to receive a new supply of oxygen and back to the heart, through the left atrium to the left ventricle. The left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood through the arterial system to the rest of the body where it feeds every single living cell. Various disease conditions can damage each of these structures.
The valves. Four valves regulate the flow of blood in and out of the heart and from chamber to chamber. They act a bit like cardiac traffic cops by directing the way blood flows, how much of it flows, and when to stop it from flowing. Disease and injury can cause heart valves to leak, narrow, or otherwise malfunction, disrupting the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently.
The electrical system. This electrical system is controlled by a group of specialized cells that spontaneously discharge, sending electrical currents down specialized nerves and tissues, causing the heart to contract. When any of these electrical structures becomes diseased or disordered, arrhythmias, ay-rith-mee-uhz, or heart rhythm disturbances, occur. The pericardium. The entire heart is positioned in a thin sac called the pericardium, peri = around and cardium = heart; pronounced per-ry-car-dee-um. Fluid within the sac lubricates the constantly moving surfaces. Inflammation of the pericardium from an infection or other cause causes pericarditis. Build-up of excess fluid inside the pericardium can cause problems with how the heart functions, a condition called cardiac tamponade.
To keep your heart healthy, your body needs adequate amounts of exercise accompanied by a heart-healthy diet. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. A heart-healthy diet consists of the majority of your calories coming from vegetables, fruits and high-fiber foods like legumes and whole grains. These foods are accompanied in moderation by lean proteins, especially fish, as well as low-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds.
Until tomorrow: It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion.