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The normal heart rythm

The heart is a fist-sized muscle that pumps blood through the body 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without rest.

The normal heart is made up of four parts: two atria on the top of the heart (right atrium and left atrium), and two ventricles (right ventricle and left ventricle), the muscular chambers on the bottom that provide the major power to pump blood. These four chambers are connected by valves that allow blood to move forward and prevent it from flowing backwards. Coronary arteries, or blood vessels, deliver a constant, nourishing supply of blood to the heart muscle.

The hearts pumping action, or “heartbeat,” is directed by a complicated electrical system. Problems with the regular heartbeat, such as abnormally fast or slow rhythms, can be caused by aging, but may happen for other reasons as well. Heart rhythm problems can cause the feeling that the heart is “racing,” (palpitations) or weakness, passing out (syncope), and sometimes death.

A normal heartbeat begins as a single electrical impulse that comes from the atria. The impulse sends out an electrical pulse that causes the atria to contract (squeeze) and move blood into the lower ventricles. The electrical current then passes through the AV node (the electrical bridge between the upper and lower chambers of the heart), causing the ventricles to contract and relax in a steady, rhythmic sequence. This results in blood being drawn into the heart and pushed back out to the rest of the body.