The heart muscle forms part of the heart. It assumes an important function. Certain diseases can affect the function of the muscles. Disorders and complaints result in serious consequences. That's why medical help should be sought quickly if a disease is suspected.

What is the heart muscle?

The heart muscle is a specific form of muscle, which occurs only in the region of the heart. It forms a large part of the wall of the human heart. The muscles are not voluntary muscles. While these are influenced and moved by one's will, the heart muscle works without the owner's attention.

Instead, the heart muscle permanently and without noticeable effort ensures that blood is pumped through the body. Decisive for this function are the contractions. The heart musculature thus assumes vital tasks. As soon as the heart is no longer able to pump the blood through the veins in a sufficient manner, serious complications arise. Such a condition can lead to the death of the person concerned.

At the same time, the number of heart beats provides information about the health of the patient as well as his physical condition. In certain diseases, for example, a high pulse is common. In addition, the muscle is increasingly loaded during physical exertion. The heart muscle is responsible for getting enough oxygen to the cells in every situation.

Anatomy & Construction

The heart muscle differentiates itself from the smooth as well as striated musculature. At the same time, however, it has properties that occur in both. Thus, the heart muscle is a special form. The structure is reminiscent of the striated muscles, as it occurs in the skeletal muscles.

The individual building blocks represent elements that continue to shrink in size. A high number of muscle fibers bundles to the muscle. In this case, the muscle as well as the individual fibers is surrounded by a protective cover, the membrane. There are proteins in the smallest elements of the muscle. Only by the existence of the proteins it is the muscles possible to contract. The proteins actin and myosin are responsible for the contraction.

These are in a certain structure that creates a streak when viewed with special instruments. In addition, the tubule system resembles the horizontal stripe muscle. These are spaces in the cytoplasm where calcium is stored. These are very important for the contraction of the muscle. Only then is it possible for the muscle to contract quickly and powerfully. However, the heart muscle is also similar to smooth muscle.

This becomes clear when looking at the individual cells. Unlike striated muscles, each cell has a nucleus. The skeletal muscles, however, have cells in which are sometimes hundreds of nuclei.

Function & Tasks

Above all, the heart muscle has a function: pumping the blood through the body and thus supplying each cell with oxygen. Without the work of the muscles life would not be possible. The contraction takes place on the basis of an internal conduction system. These are in particular certain cells, the pacemaker cells.

These can spontaneously discharge and also occur in smooth muscle in this form. First, the process begins with the primary pacemaker, the sinoatrial node. The task of the sinus node is to prescribe the heart rate. In a healthy person, this is about 60 to 80 beats within a minute.

From the sinus accounts, the excitement reaches the muscles of the atria. These contracts and pass the contraction to the AV node. By further intermediate steps, in which the contraction is subject to a delay, it finally reaches the heart muscle of the chambers. The excitement causes the heart chambers to contract and allow the blood to come out. Each heartbeat can thus be staggered in two phases.

In the first, the heart muscles of the chambers relax, causing blood to enter the cavities. This is followed by the second phase in which the muscles tense up. It creates a high pressure, which is ultimately responsible for the fact that the blood can be pumped into the arteries. The two phases are called diastole and systole. In existing fluctuations in blood pressure, the heart muscle has the ability to independently adjust its activity to the appropriate circumstances. Only later will further processes become necessary.

Diseases & complaints

When the heart muscle is impaired by discomfort in its function, there may be a mortal danger to those affected. The disturbances can be subdivided into electrical or mechanical forms. A mixture of subtypes is also possible.

A mechanical disorder is a change in the size of the heart. This causes complaints in the pumping process. Electrical complaints are a disturbance of the transmission of stimuli. Myocardial diseases usually cause the muscle to increase in size. In doing so, further differentiations are made.

Thickening of the heart muscle, for example, often results from excessive blood pressure. The left ventricle is then forced to do more work to maintain a pressure high enough to keep the blood flowing into the arteries. As a consequence of this behavior, the heart muscle adjusts, creating more cells. At a certain level, however, the muscle can no longer be supplied with blood.

If it has increased too much in its thickness, the function of the muscle is limited. It creates a heart failure. At the same time, the risk of having a heart attack increases due to a lack of oxygen supply to certain muscles. Due to certain factors, the heart muscle may become inflamed or emaciated. An infection is often caused by bacteria, but also drugs, alcohol, influenza viruses, fungi and parasites may be responsible for the symptoms. The course of the disease mainly depends on the severity of the inflammation.

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