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Common Myths
Is what you think really true?
Common Questions
Answers to questions about the heart

The Heart
The Conduction System
Find out about the electrical impulses that control the rhythm of your heartbeat. Includes an interactive illustration.
Protective Membranes
Read about the membranes, which help protect the heart and its components.
Learn about the heart's four chambers. Includes an interactive illustration.
Introduction To The Heart
The fist-sized heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood each day.
The Cardiac Cycle
Discover what happens in a heartbeat. Includes an interactive illustration.
Explore the valves, which regulate blood flow inside your heart. Includes an interactive illustration.
Introduction to the Heart
Explore your heart with our interactive illustration.

The Blood Vessels
Introduction to the Vascular System
The circulatory network that nourishes your body.
Veins bring blood back to the heart.
The average adult has about 10 pints of blood.
These tiny vessels supply oxygen and nutrients to tissues.
Arteries expand to increase blood flow when the heart is working hard.

Diagnostic Procedures
Blood Tests
These include blood cholesterol, oxygen content and other tests.
The General Examination
You should have your heart checked more often as you age. Here's what to expect from your doctor.
Electrocardiogram (EKG)
An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a painless recording of the heart's electrical activity. This electrical activity is first detected by small metal electrodes, which are placed on the patient's wrists, ankles and chest.
Chest X-ray
A suspicious X-ray may be followed by other tests.

Heart-Smart Eating
Why 'Fat-Free' Isn't Trouble-Free
Lower-fat foods sometimes contain more calories.
Folic Acid: Time to Supplement?
Folic acid is an important vitamin for women planning to become pregnant.

Congenital Heart Disease
When trouble starts at birth.
Superficial Thrombophlebitis
A blood clot forms inside an inflamed vein.
Varicose Veins
Varicose veins occur when veins just below the skin's surface are damaged, become swollen and fill with too much blood.
Marfan's Syndrome
Marfan's syndrome is a genetic (inherited) disorder that affects the body's connective tissue.
Heart Murmur
A heart murmur is an abnormal sound made by abnormal, turbulent blood flow within the heart.
Angina, also called angina pectoris, is discomfort or pain in the chest that happens when not enough oxygen-rich blood reaches the muscle cells of the heart.
Mitral Valve Prolapse
Mitral valve prolapse is a malfunction of the heart's mitral valve, the physical doorway between the heart's left atrium and left ventricle.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an abnormal swelling in the aorta. It can be fatal.
Heart Failure
The heart is no longer able to meet the body's need for blood because it is pumping inefficiently.
Atherosclerosis is a narrowing of the arteries that can significantly reduce the blood supply to vital organs such as the heart, brain and intestines.


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