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Pumping action of your heart

One heartbeat is a single cycle in which your heart ’s chambers contract (squeeze) and relax to pump blood.

At rest the normal heart beats approximately 60 - 80 times per minute, i.e. approximately 100,000 times a day! Your heartbeat increases when you exercise.

To ensure an adequate blood supply to your whole body the four chambers of your heart have to pump regularly and in sequence.

There are two phases to your heart's pumping cycle:

  • Systole: this is when your heart contracts, pushing blood out of the chambers
  • Diastole: the period between contractions when the muscle of your heart (myocardium) relaxes and the chambers fill with blood

What can go wrong with the heartbeat?

There are some conditions which can lead to damage to your heart muscle, making it weak and unable to pump as efficiently as before.

For example:

When your heart muscle cannot meet your body’s demands for blood and oxygen your body develops a range of different symptoms. When this happens it is referred to as heart failure because of the failure of your heart to work efficiently.

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