The Heart

Heart Facts For Kids

The heart is about the size of your fist, and you won’t believe the things that this very important organ can do. Prepare to be amazed by these cool heart facts.

So, first let’s take a look at how this little bit of dynamite that comes in a small package works.

The heart is like a big pump made of muscles, and it constantly pumps blood throughout our bodies every minute of every day. These movements are called ‘involuntary’ which means you don’t actually have to think about making your heart beat; your brain does the work for you and passes on the message.

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  • So everyone thinks that the heart is on the left side of your chest, well it’s not. Whoever made that up has fooled people for years, maybe it was a trickster trying to trick us. It’s actually right in the middle of your chest between your two lungs. It is protected by your ribs. At least we know it’s in a safe spot!

the heart diagram

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  • The heart has four chambers, the left and right atrium and the left and right ventricles. Interestingly ‘atrium’ is the Latin word for entrance hall and ‘ventricle’ is the Latin word for little belly. So, there’s a little belly inside our hearts…interesting.

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  • There are also four valves in the heart, and these are there to make sure that the blood only goes one way, in or out. Imagine the chaos it would cause if the blood was going in and out all at the same time.

heart pumping blood

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  • So how does the blood get around our bodies? Well when it leaves the heart it gets taken on a journey through arteries. Have you heard of the aorta and the pulmonary artery? Well these are super important for making sure our blood gets to the right place at the right time. It’s like a well-timed train.

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  • But what about when the blood needs to go back to the heart. Well here it is carried through veins. If you look at your wrists, you’ll probably be able to see veins which look blue from the outside.

the heart veins

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  • Then there’s blood that comes from the lungs into the left atrium; this is transported along nicely through the pulmonary veins, while blood that comes from the body goes flowing in through the superior vena cava (this carries blood from your upper body) and inferior vena cava (this carries blood from your lower body).

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  • You must have felt your own heart beating, well this actually works from electricity, yes really, electricity! Your heart contracts, or tightens up and this makes all the chambers smaller and pushes blood back into the blood vessels. So that’s how it’s done…interesting! When your heart relaxes again, the chambers get bigger and the blood comes back into your heart. Wow, sounds pretty complex.

Interesting and unusual facts about the heart

  • The heart weighs between 7 and 15 ounces (about 200 to 425 grams) which is about the same as a bottle of Heinz Ketchup! Pick up a bottle of ketchup and you’ll be able to feel how much your heart actually weighs.

ketchup bottle

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  • Now this is quite unbelievable. The average adult heart beats about 72 times a minute, 100,000 times a day and 3,600 times a year. During a person’s life their heart could beat more than 3.5 billion, yes 3.5 billion, times.

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  • This amazing bit of body machinery pumps about 100 gallons (380 liters) of blood through your body, every single hour, which is about 2,400 gallons (9000 liters) per day. Man it works hard. That’s about the same as 1,600 glasses of water, per hour and 38,400 glasses of water per day. Wow. We certainly wouldn’t be able to drink that much water. Now let’s work that out over a lifetime…it pumps about 1 million barrels of blood during an average lifetime which would fill three super tankers. Getting the idea of how hard this little fellow works?

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  • Let’s look at it in another way. Turn on your kitchen faucet all the way for 45 years and that is the same amount of blood that is pumped through your heart in a lifetime. Okay, don’t turn on the faucet; your parents won’t be too pleased at all! What a waste of water too.

free standing faucet

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  • Want to know how fast the blood pumps through your aorta? It pumps at 1 mile (1.6km’s) per hour. That is pretty fast.

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  • You know when you hear the sound of your heartbeat; it’s got a kind of ‘lub dub’ sound. Well that’s from your four heart valves closing. What a cool thing to know.

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  • Your heart does the most physical work out of any other muscle in the body. Hardly surprising when you see all the work it’s got to do.

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  • All of your blood vessels, which include arteries, veins and capillaries, are over 60,000 miles long (about 97,000km’s). If we had to stretch them all out it would go round the world twice. No way. How they all fit in our body who knows.

round the world

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  • This is interesting. During a heartbeat the heart creates pressure, okay cool. Now the amount of pressure it creates would be able to make your blood squirt a distance of about 30 feet (9 meters).

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  • In 1967 Dr Christopher Barnard did the first ever successful heart transplant in Cape Town, South Africa. It was a wonder of medicine.

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  • Can you believe there is actually a time and a day when most heart attacks occur? Well it’s between 8 and 9am in the morning and Monday is the most popular day. Perhaps we aren’t all that keen on Monday.

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  • To keep your heart healthy you really need to get out there and get some exercise in…at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

active lifestyle

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  • Why is the heart always associated with love? Well there are different theories, the Greeks believed the heart was the seat of the spirit, the Chinese associated it with the center for happiness and the Egyptians thought the emotions and intellect arose from the heart. Then Plato came along and believed that we reason through our brains but love came from our heart.

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  • Early Egyptians believed that the heart, and other organs, moved around inside our bodies. Imagine that, we’d never be able to sit still.

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  • Did you know that the heart can continue to beat outside of the body as long as it has got enough oxygen? Well this is because it has its very own electrical impulse. Freaky.

electrical impulse

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  • The heart pumps blood to almost all of the 75 trillion cells in our body. The only part of our body that doesn’t get blood is the corneas in our eyes. 75 trillion cells, no way.

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  • This is very interesting and very fast too. When your body is at rest it takes 6 seconds for the blood to go from your heart to your lungs and back again, 8 seconds for it to go to your brain and back and 16 seconds for it to go all the way down to your toes and back.

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  • Imagine this. Your heart creates enough energy every single day to drive a truck for 20 miles (32km’s). So if you’re 10 you would have been able to drive a truck for 73,000 miles (about 118,000km’s). Who knows where you’d be now, but you’d have been able to go to the moon and back.

truck driving

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  • If you own a cat, you’re in luck. It can reduce your risk of having a heart attack by more than a third. Think you should ask your parents for a cat if you don’t have one, you’ll be super healthy.

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  • Did you know that when you listen to music your heartbeat changes and it takes on the same beat as what you’re listening to? So when you’re listening to super-fast music your heart beats faster and slower when you’re listening to calming music. Amazing huh.

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  • This is grim! In 1929, German surgeon Werner Forssmann examined the inside of his own heart. He threaded a catheter into his arm vein and pushed it 20 inches (50cm’s) into his heart. But some good did come out of this as he actually invented something called ‘cardiac catheterization’ – which doctors now use all the time.

doctor surgeon

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  • Men and women’s hearts beat differently. A women’s heartbeat is faster than a man’s at 78 beats per minute and a man’s at 70 beats per minute.

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  • Do you know what an electrocardiograph is? Well it measures the electric current in the heart and helps doctors to know what’s happening in this amazing organ. It was invented in 1903.

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  • If you want to feel how fast your heart is beating put your finger on the side of your wrist or throat. This is your pulse. Get the stopwatch out and see how many times it beats in a minute. As a kid it should beat about 75 to 100 times per minute. Go on, check it out now.

measure pulse

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  • When you’re running around, or if you’re excited, have you noticed that your heart beats faster? Well that’s because your heart needs to work even harder than normal to get more blood to your muscles so they’re in tip-top shape. Gosh as if it doesn’t work hard enough already.

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  • Now we know the heart works hard, but this might shock you. Even when you’re resting your heart is still working at an unbelievable pace…twice as hard as the leg muscles of someone that is sprinting. Amazing.

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  • The aorta is almost as thick as a garden hose. On the flip side, your capillaries are so small that it would take ten of them to be as thick as a piece of hair.

This fist-sized piece of our body is a truly amazing little bit of machinery. Oh the places we can go with it…even to the moon and back!

circulatory system