Heartening look at the body's busiest organ

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 October, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 October, 1997, 12:00am

The caricature of a heart drawn on a Valentine's Day card is only a rough representation of what the heart looks like. Your heart is shaped more like an upside-down pear.

Its structure makes the heart an efficient, never-ceasing pump. From birth to death it keeps on pumping.

When you run, it pumps quickly. When you sleep, it pumps slowly.

The heart provides the power needed for life. This life-sustaining power has caused an air of mystery.

Modern technology has done much to demystify the heart, but it still holds fascination for many people.

The Heart: An Online Exploration (http:// sln.fi. edu/biosci/heart.html) is a cool site where you can explore the organ and the complexities of its development and structure.

Follow the blood through the blood vessels, and wander through their weblike systems.

The site also explains how to have a healthy heart, how to prevent heart disease and gives figures on heart disease fatalities.

You can check out videos, such as a heart bypass operation, information on how the heart works, and some of the biology involved.

If you still want to learn more about the heart, take a look at some recommended resource materials, enrichment activities, and a brief glossary that can also be found at this Web site.

Before 1900, very few people died of heart disease. These days it is the Number One killer in the United States.

The age of technology has made life easier and made people more prone to heart disease.

With the new lifestyle came a change in diet, and the combination of a sedentary life and a rich diet led to an increase in clogged blood vessels, heart attacks, and strokes.

Heart disease has become so commonplace, that between 1940 and 1967 the World Health Organisation called it the world's most serious epidemic.

At Heart Care http://www.advocatehealth.

com/heartcare/home.html), you can find comprehensive information to help you understand how heart disease affects people and what will happen during specific procedures and interventions.

You will also learn how risk factors affect our heart. The more risk factors, the greater chance you have of developing heart disease. Therefore, reducing these risk factors is the key to a healthier heart.

Descriptions of some common heart diseases, such as coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, and heart failure, are also explained at Heart Care Web site.

Of all heart diseases, heart attacks are probably the most common. They can be caused by blood vessel disease or by a blood clot lodged in a coronary artery.

For details, go to http://www.amhrt.org/hs97/ha.html.