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Learn About the Heart and Circulatory System for Kids
When you think of muscles, the ones attached to your bones that help you move your arms and legs probably come to mind. But your heart is also a muscle. The muscles you use to move your arms and legs are called voluntary muscles. You control their movement. Your heart is an involuntary muscle. You don't have to tell it to beat and pump blood. It does that automatically. Since the heart beats about 70 times per minute, it's a good thing that we don't have to think about it.
The heart is made up of a type of muscle called cardiac muscle. When you see the word cardiac, it is referring to the heart.
The heart is part of the circulatory system. A system in the human body is a group of organs that work together. The heart works with the lungs and blood vessels to help deliver oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body.
Structure of the Heart
The heart has four main parts or chambers called ventricles and atria. They are like rooms in the heart. They are:
- The Left Ventricle
- The Right Ventricle
- The Left Atrium
- The Right Atrium
The atria fill up with blood and send it into the ventricles. The ventricles pump the blood out of the heart. While the ventricles are pumping blood, the atria refill with blood to get ready for the next heart contraction. And this goes on all the time.
Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood that leaves the heart. There are two major arteries:
- Pulmonary Artery
The aorta is connected to the left ventricle. The pulmonary artery is connected to the right ventricle.
The aorta is the largest artery. It carries oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. The pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood. Oxygenated means the blood has oxygen in it. Deoxygenated blood has carbon dioxide instead of oxygen.
Veins carry blood back to the heart. The largest veins are the Venae Cavae.
Valves manage the flow of blood through the heart. They are like doors but they only let blood move in one direction.
- Learn About the Circulatory System for Kids
Learn about the circulatory system including how the heart works the different types of blood vessels: arteries, capillaries and veins.
Caring for Your Heart
The heart is a muscle and we must always keep our muscles strong. Exercise strengthens both your skeletal muscles and your heart. Kids should get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. This includes running, jumping rope, dancing and playing sports.
Eat healthy foods and avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fats. Most of your diet should come from healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and grains. Limit sweets and sugary drinks.
When you grow up, don't smoke. Smoking is addictive, so it's very difficult to stop doing it. It can damage both the heart and blood vessels.
Heart attacks are a common type of heart disease. Heart attacks happen when the flow of oxygen-rich blood is blocked and the heart can't get oxygen. The section of heart that can't get blood will begin to die if the blood flow isn't quickly restored. Heart attacks are one of the leading killers of both men and women in the United States.
Some symptoms of a heart attack are chest pain and pain in the arms. The pain can spread to the neck, back and jaw. Shortness of breath, sweating, exhaustion and dizziness are other possible symptoms.
Exercising and eating healthy food can help to prevent heart attacks from occurring.
Learn About the Heart Video
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