15 Weird, Scary & Amazing Facts About Your Heart

February is the month dedicated to hearts… and no, we don’t just mean the ones on your Valentine’s Day card!

It’s also National Heart Month, a time dedicated to spreading education, awareness, and even some fun facts. Here are 15 interesting bits of information you may not know about your body’s hardest working muscle.

Child makes picture for American Heart Month

1) Positivity is Good for Your Heart

Feeling a strong sense of emotional vitality and overall happiness has been shown to decrease your risk of heart disease.

2) A Lifetime Worth 2.5 Billion Heart Beats

According to the American Heart Association, an adult heart beats approximately 100,000 times per day. That’s about 60 to 100 beats per minute, or at least one beat per second. In an average lifetime, a human heart will beat over 2.5 billion times.

3) Early Pacemakers Had Plugs

The first pacemakers plugged into a wall socket! Of course, they’ve come a long way since then

4) Fitness Can Help Slow Your Heart Rate

Heart rate is affected by age and fitness level. Typically the heart rate slows as children get older or adults get fitter. This chart from the National Institutes of Health can give you an idea of how time affects those cardiovascular changes:

  • Newborn: 70 to 160 bpm
  • One to four years: 80 to 120 bpm
  • Five to nine years: 75 to 110 bpm
  • Children 10+ years and non-athletic adults: 60 to 100 bpm
  • Athletic adults: 40 to 60 bpm

5) Modesty Led to the Creation of the Stethoscope

The invention of the stethoscope was prompted by modesty. Before physicians had stethoscopes, they had to put their ear directly on the patient’s chest.

6) Your Heart is Actually a Handful

An adult heart is about the size of that person’s hands clasped together in a double first. Since people vary in size, your most realistic assessment is made using your own hands. However, a heart can also enlarge because of certain illness and conditions, such as congestive heart failure.

7) That First Beat is at Four Weeks

The heart begins beating at four weeks after conception.

8) Heart Attack Symptoms Differ Based on Your Sex

Men and women typically experience different heart attack symptoms.

Men usually report:

  • Sweating
  • Crushing chest pain
  • Nausea

Women often report:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting or lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in the lower chest
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Upper back pressure

9) The True Source of That Heart Beat Sound

A normal heart valve is about the size of a half dollar. The beating sound your heart makes is a result of its four valve leaflets closing.

10) Heart Disease is an Equal Opportunity Killer

Though we often talk about heart disease being our country’s number one killer of men, it’s also the leading killer of women. According to James Beckerman, MD, director of the Center for Prevention and Wellness at the Providence Heart and Vascular Institute in Portland, “Heart disease is an equal opportunity buzz kill.” In fact, more women pass due to heart disease than most cancers combined. Over one in three women is living with heart disease, and every minute one American woman dies from:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Other cardiovascular disease

11) Enough Blood to Fill a Truck

Each minute, your heart pumps an impressive 1.5 gallons of blood. Over the average lifetime, it will pump enough blood to fill more than three super tanker trucks.

12) Depression is Hard on the Heart

Depression increases heart attack risk, especially in women. If you’re a woman under 55 with moderate or severe depression, you are over twice as likely to:

  • Require an artery-opening procedure
  • Suffer a heart attack
  • Die of heart disease

13) Your Heart Supports Trillions

Your body has about 75 trillion cells, and your heart pumps blood to almost all of them. Just your corneas don’t receive blood!

14) All You Need is a Little O2

The heart has its own electrical impulse and can continue to beat when separated from the body– as long as it’s receiving oxygen!

15) Stay Active for Your Heart

The last (and arguably most important!) fact for the day is that YOU are in control of the greatest potential risk factor for heart disease. That risk factor is your activity level! The American Heart Association recommends getting at least a weekly 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, or a combination of the two. Other ways to lower your risk include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Eating better
  • Controlling cholesterol
  • Reducing blood sugar
  • Managing blood pressure
  • Losing weight

Your heart is your hardest-working muscle! It only catches a break when you’re resting or sleeping, and even then it’s still ticking. Educating yourself on heart health is a crucial part of your overall wellness. You already took an excellent first step by reading this article. We recommend keeping the proactivity flowing with healthy food and physical activity this month–and beyond!

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