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What is a Heartbeat?

It is a kind of ‘vital sign,’ or an important indicator of health in the human body. By knowing about heartbeat we can measure the number of times per minute that the heart contracts or beats. 

There is variation in the speed of heartbeat because of physical activity, threats to safety, and emotional responses. Whereas when a person is in a relaxed state it is called a resting heartbeat. In case any individual has a normal heart rate, it does not guarantee that a person is free of health problems, it is a useful benchmark for identifying a range of health issues.


Functioning of Normal Heart

The process of plumbing of the heart is done by a series of electrical impulses produced by a bunch of special cells in the right atrium, called the sinus node. As such, the sinus node is called a “ natural pacemaker.” Production of pulses of electrical activity that spread through the heart’s cells is done by the sinus node which causes the heart muscle to undergo a contraction process. 

The movement of an electrical impulse through the heart is like the travelling of electricity through a circuit of fine wires. Impulses which are generated through sinus nodes travel down through the atria to special cells in the AV node. These impulses make atria contract and this process leads to the squeezing of blood into the ventricles. 

Further, there is a transfer of impulse from the AV node through the ventricles via an electrical pathway. And these electrical impulses cause the ventricles to contract and squeeze the blood out of your heart to your body and your lungs.


What is the Difference Between Heartbeat and Heart Rhythm?

The number of times the heart beats in a minute is called heartbeat. It is also the number of times the heart pumps to push blood around the body. 

The pattern in which the heart beats is called heart rhythm. It may be regular or irregular, or fast or slow depending upon the function of the heart. 


Normal Heart Rhythm

The normal rhythm of the heart is called “sinus rhythm.” In normal rhythm, the heartbeat varies from 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm) while you are resting. In the case of slower sinus rhythm, the heartbeat is about 60bpm which is called sinus bradycardia and if sinus rhythm is faster then it is called tachycardia and this heartbeat is 100bpm. There is variation in the heartbeat minute to minute depending on the need and functioning of the heart. 

All conditions like sinus rhythm, sinus bradycardia, sinus tachycardia and sinus arrhythmia are all normal heart rhythms where the electrical impulses travel in a normal way through the heart.


Echocardiogram

Ultrasound scanning of the heart is called electrocardiograph and this technique is not at all uncomfortable. This test can be done within an hour. By this, we can detect if one has a problem with his/her heart muscle or heart valves, which could be the cause of arrhythmia.


Interesting Facts About Heartbeat

A. Number of times the heart beats per minute is the measurement of the heart functioning. 

B. The heart rate of a person should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute while they are resting after the age of ten years. 

C. There is an increase in the heartbeat during exercise. 

D. Irregular heartbeat causes several heart problems.

E. As per current data, one in every four deaths in the United States occurs as a result of heart disease. So, proper monitoring of your heart rate can help prevent heart complications.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Explain Why Heartbeat is Known as Intrinsic?

Ans. As the heart is a myogenic organ, the cardiac cycle is regulated intrinsically by nodal tissues. It is known to be intrinsic because it is initiated at the SA node present in the right atrium. SAN (sinoatrial node) initiates the processing of action potential, which is then conducted to AVN (atrioventricular node) and from AV bundle to bundle of His and then to ventricular musculature. In each cardiac cycle, there is systole and diastole of both atria and ventricles.

2. Explain the Term Abnormal Heart Rhythm?

Ans. Heartbeat is not the only factor that can determine good health as the rhythm of the heartbeat is equally important. For proper functioning, the heart should beat with a steady rhythm, and there should be a regular gap between beats.

Our body muscles have an electrical system that instructs the heart when to beat and push blood around the body. Activities like exercise, anxiety, excitement, and fear increase the heartbeat and rhythm too. 

3. Explain What All Conditions Can Be Caused Because of Abnormal Heart Rhythm?

Ans. Conditions which are caused due to abnormal heart rhythm are:

  • Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

  • Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia

  • Atrial Flutter

  • Atrial Fibrillation (AF)

  • Ventricular Tachycardia (VT)

  • Ventricular Fibrillation (VF)

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