How well do you know your heart?

Monday, June 03, 2019

How well do you know the workings of your heart? Do you know how much blood it pumps around the body, the average heart beats per minute or that laughter really is the best medicine? 

Average heart beats per minute

For most adults they have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute - circulating the equivalent of 1/3 cup of blood with each beat for adults, totalling 2,000 gallons daily throughout your body.

Although, the fitter and healthier you are, the lower your resting heart rate. For example, athletes may have a resting heart rate of 40 to 60bpm, or lower.

This blood travels around 60,000 miles through a system of blood vessels - arteries, veins, and capillaries. That's long enough to go around the world more than twice.


On average, a human heart begins beating around four weeks after conception - and doesn't stop until death.

In a resting adult it takes the heart three seconds to pump blood to the lungs, four seconds to reach the brain, and just 16 seconds to reach the toes and back.

Heart health is linked to mood

It's been found that statistically, those suffering from depression or low moods are at a higher risk of heart disease, for people who live alone their chance is almost double that of the average.

Stress is also a huge factor. Unsurprisingly, Mondays are the most common day for people to suffer heart attacks, and other high-frequency days include Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

In contrast, laughter is thought to be hugely helpful for the heart, increasing blood flow and relaxing the lining of the blood vessels - so keep laughing as you're effectively protecting your heart.

Heart attacks differ between men and women

Signs of heart attacks in men

We commonly see men in heart attack awareness campaigns feeling the well-known symptoms of heart attack - pain in the chest and the arms and falling to the floor.

However the NHS list more symptoms to be aware of:

  • chest pain – a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing in the centre of your chest
  • pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is travelling from your chest to your arms
  • feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
  • an overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack)
  • coughing or wheezing.

It's also worth noting that it doesn't have to be a severe pain, as some only experience minor pain which is similar to indigestion.

Symptoms of a heart attack in women

Women can also, like men, experience the pain in their chest, however not all heart attacks in women have this symptom.

They can experience:

  • shortness of breath
  • pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen
  • dizziness
  • feeling lightheaded or fainting
  • upper back pressure
  • extreme fatigue.

Did you know?

  • According to the British Heart Foundation - In the UK there are more than 100,000 hospital admissions each year due to heart attacks: that's one every five minutes.
  • Around 1.4 million people alive in the UK today have survived a heart attack.
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart and circulatory disease. It is also the most common cause of heart attack.

And interestingly, as the heart has its own electrical impulse it can continue to beat outside the body as long as it has enough oxygen.

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