9. Heart Muscle; The Heart as a Pump and Function of the Heart Valves 10. Rhythmical Excitation of the Heart 11. The Normal Electrocardiogram 12. Electrocardiographic Interpretation of Cardiac Muscle and Coronary Blood Flow Abnormalities: Vectorial Analysis 13. Cardiac Arrhythmias and Their Electrocardiographic Interpretation
Heart Muscle; The Heart as a Pump and Function of the Heart Valves With this chapter we begin discussion of the heart and circulatory system. The heart, shown in Figure 9–1, is actually two separate pumps: a right heart that pumps blood through the lungs, and a left heart that pumps blood through the peripheral organs. In turn, each of these hearts is a pulsatile two-chamber pump composed of an atrium and a ventricle. Each atrium is a weak primer pump for the ventricle, helping to move blood into the ventricle. The ventricles then supply the main pumping force that propels the blood either (1) through the pulmonary circulation by the right ventricle or (2) through the peripheral circulation by the left ventricle. Special mechanisms in the heart cause a continuing succession of heart contractions called cardiac rhythmicity, transmitting action potentials throughout the heart muscle to cause the heart’s rhythmical beat. This rhythmical control system is explained in Chapter 10. In this chapter, we explain how the heart operates as a pump, beginning with the special features of heart muscle itself.
Physiology of Cardiac Muscle
The heart is composed of three major types of cardiac muscle: atrial muscle, ventricular muscle, and specialized excitatory and conductive muscle ﬁbers. The atrial and ventricular types of muscle contract in much the same way as skeletal muscle, except that the duration of contraction is much longer. Conversely, the specialized excitatory and conductive ﬁbers contract only feebly because they contain few contractile ﬁbrils; instead, they exhibit either automatic rhythmical electrical discharge in the form of action potentials or conduction of the action potentials through the heart, providing an excitatory system that controls the rhythmical beating of the heart. ¦ ¨ £ ¨ ¤ ¥ ¢ ¥ © ¨ ¤ § ¥ ¦ ¥ ¤ £ ¢ ¡
Figure 9–2 shows a typical histological picture of cardiac muscle, demonstrating cardiac muscle ﬁbers arranged in a latticework, with the ﬁbers dividing, recombining, and then spreading again. One also notes immediately from this ﬁgure that cardiac muscle is striated in the same manner as in typical skeletal muscle. Further, cardiac muscle has typical myoﬁbrils that contain actin and myosin ﬁlaments almost identical to those found in skeletal muscle; these ﬁlaments lie side by side and slide along one another during contraction in the same manner as occurs in skeletal muscle (see Chapter 6). But in other ways, cardiac muscle is quite different from skeletal muscle, as we shall see. Cardiac Muscle as a Syncytium. The dark areas crossing the cardiac muscle ﬁbers in Figure 9–2 are called intercalated discs; they are actually cell membranes that separate individual cardiac muscle cells from one another. That is, cardiac muscle ﬁbers are made up of many individual cells connected in series and in parallel with one another.
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Structure of the heart, and course of blood ﬂow through the heart chambers and heart valves.
Rhythmical action potentials (in millivolts) from a Purkinje ﬁber and from a ventricular muscle ﬁber, recorded by means of microelectrodes.
“Syncytial,” interconnecting nature of cardiac muscle ﬁbers.
The heart actually is composed of two syncytiums: the atrial syncytium that constitutes the walls of the two atria, and the ventricular syncytium that constitutes the walls of the two ventricles. The atria are separated from the ventricles by...
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