The heart is the most vital human organ along with the brain. Both function 24x7x365 after getting formed in the womb till a person dies. Continuous functioning of both of them is extremely essential for maintaining an individual’s health in normal condition. But for a common man understanding the functionality of both the organs is quite challenging, and complex; leave aside the pathologies which start developing or are noticed while undergoing any medical examination during a person’s lifetime.
Further, the physicians’ and healthcare professionals’ medical jargon and terminology prevent a common person from grasping what exactly is taking place inside his/her body and how can he/she contribute and follow the advice of the medical professionals to optimize patient outcome. Medical professionals are so much overwhelmed with taking care, diagnosing, and analysis of the pathologies noticed in their patients, that they have limited time to explain in common language about the pathologies noticed to the suffering patient’s satisfaction. For this, social workers, medical educators, and psychologists allay the fears of the patients (not commonly available).
So, here I have started to focus on Cardiac pathologies to make a common person understand through the Physics taking place behind the functioning or malfunctioning of the heart. Let us resort to the basic techniques of Physics to understand any multi-degree of freedom system, such as the heart in this case. We, therefore, break up the problem into parts or sections and then dive into each to grapple and decipher what and why things may go wrong in one’s heart. However, it should never be forgotten that the Heart is an integral part of the body and is connected to other parts of the body. Diseases of other parts of the body can also impact the functioning of the heart and vice versa.
So, let us try to look at the parts of the heart made up through the following block diagram.
By structural we refer to the heart’s anatomy that includes chambers, muscles, valves, arteries, veins, major vessels coming out of it, how the heart lies in the ribs cage, etc. These components of the structure can develop defects, maybe during the growth or after the birth of a child. Hence when discussing the pathologies of the cardiac structure, we will deal with them at length in forthcoming blogs.
What is the functionality of the structural components of the heart? Well, the heart is primarily responsible for pumping blood and distributing oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Even small dysfunctions or abnormalities may cause drastic changes or effects on body functions. This functionality can be assessed by various methods like Stethoscope, ECG, Ultrasound, MRI, X-Ray, CT Scan, and other techniques. Cardiac Sonographers use ultrasound waves and specialized machines to visualize the heart structures and assess cardiac function. They can assess if the heart is performing its job of pumping the blood throughout our body. Remember, the functioning of the heart is performed by its structural components cited above. Hence, any malfunctioning noticed gets traced back to the structural abnormalities to be diagnosed by adhering to the standard protocols.
Last but not the least is Electrical part of the heart. YES, it is the electrical functioning that primarily controls the above two sections or parts of the heart. Any failure or any abnormality in the electrical functioning has an immediate and at times very serious effect on the overall functioning of the heart in its ability to pump normally blood to a human body. ECG is the procedure to which a patient is subjected to analyzing the electrical functioning of one’s heart. We will deal with it when we discuss it in a blog on ECG.
Before I end, let me also remind the human body is the most complex entity existing on earth and is made up of chemical elements such as Sodium, Potassium, Iron, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Calcium, Hydrogen, Carbon, etc. These elements as nutrients and chemical compounds flow through blood in the human body and are responsible for the formation, sustenance, and functioning of all other organs such as the Liver, Stomach, Kidneys, Bones, Lungs, Nerves, Brain, Eyes, Ears, Skin, etc., normally. It is this symphony that gets created by all these parts on getting their supply through the blood pumped by one’s heart that normally beats at 60–100 times per minute.
Let us stop here till in subsequent blogs we take up each part cited above. There we will dive deep into the pathologies/diseases and techniques used by Echocardiographers in identifying them for physicians to work on them in bringing back a patient to normalcy.
May 13, 2021