What makes your heart beat?

The heart is a muscle. When the body is at rest, it usually beats 60 to 80 times per minute. The heart beats in the right way thanks to the cardiac conduction system. This special pathway is made up of heart muscle cells that generate electrical signals and pass them on.

A wall known as the cardiac septum divides the heart into right and left halves. Each half has two chambers called the atrium and the ventricle.

The heart's main pacemaker is found in the right atrium. The sinus node sends out 60 to 80 electrical signals per minute when the body is at rest. This results in a normal heart beat (the sinus rhythm).

The AV node, between the atria and the ventricles, receives signals from the sinus node and passes them on to the bundle of His (a short section of the pathway).

This splits into two branches, which lead towards the lower end of the heart and eventually branch off into thin fibers that enter the ventricles.

Let's look at how signals travel through the heart:

The sinus node generates an electrical signal that spreads to both atria. The signal reaches the AV node and is passed on to the bundle of His and then to the bundle branches.

From there, the signal travels down to the fine fibers that enter the muscles of the ventricles, which then contract and pump blood out of the heart.

After the heartbeat is over, the muscle cells relax and are ready to receive the next signal from the sinus node.

Then the cycle starts over again.

Information on many other topics at: https://www.informedhealth.org/

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Updated on October 4, 2022

Next planned update: 2025


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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