Celebrating Heart Health Month: 10 Amazing Heart Facts

February is the month of love, and it’s a great time to show love to one of the most important organs in our body – the heart! Here are some amazing heart facts to remind you of all the hard work that our hearts do for us! 

  1. The energy the heart creates in a single day is enough to drive a truck for 20 miles. Over the course of an average person’s life, their heart would power that same truck to the moon… and back!
  1. Your heart pumps about 1.5 gallons of blood through your body every minute, adding up to 2,000 gallons of blood pumped every day. That adds up to 730,000 gallons in a year, which is more than an Olympic-sized swimming pool! 
  1. If you were to stretch out your blood vessel system with all its arteries, veins and capillaries end-to-end, it would extend over 60,000 miles. A road that long would wrap around the Earth two and half times!
  1. Call an Electrician! Our hearts are controlled by electrical pulses produced by the cardiac conduction system. Even when separated from the body, these electrical pulses will keep a heart beating for some time! Pacemakers are an artificial way to mimic this system when a person’s heartbeat is off rhythm. The earliest pacemakers had to be plugged into a wall! These days, pacemakers are run with sophisticated batteries. 
  1. Your heart beats an average of 100,000 times per day, an average of 70 times a minute. The slowest heart rate in the animal kingdom is the blue whale, which at times can have a heartbeat only twice in a minute. The fastest heart rate found so far is that of the pygmy shrew, which has a heart rate of 1200 beats per minute!
  1. We might not all be competition athletes, but our hearts are all champions!. In studies, the muscles of the heart are shown to work harder than the leg muscles of an Olympic sprinter!
  1. The only place in your body that blood from your heart doesn’t reach is your cornea. Instead of receiving oxygen from a blood supply, the cornea gets its oxygen from tears. 
  1. Capillaries are the smallest blood vessel in the human body, some so narrow that blood cells can only pass through in single file! That’s only 8 to 10 microns wide!
  1. The very first open heart surgery was performed as early as 1893! Before x-rays or ct scans made looking inside our bodies possible without surgery, a man named James Cornish came into Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, USA with a stab wound to the chest and heart. Surgeon Dr. Daniel Hale Williams decided that the only course of action was to open the chest cavity to repair the damage the knife blade had done. He stitched up the pericardium, which is the sac of tissue surrounding the heart. The patient made a full recovery and was able to leave the hospital just 51 days later! Dr. Williams, who was one of the few African American surgeons in the world at the time, became the earliest pioneer of open heart procedures that would continue to save lives in the modern day.
  1. Did you know your body can defy gravity? No, that doesn’t mean we can fly, but our hearts and circulatory system defy gravity every second of the day! To keep blood pumping through our body regardless of the position we are in, our arteries contract and utilize valves to return blood from our lower extremities back to the heart.