Despite the human heart being most often associated with love, the heart is primarily a muscle that works 24/7 to keep you alive. And, these fascinating facts about the human heart, even if you're not into science, will change the way you think about your sweet beating heart. People often refer to having a broken heart, or say their hearts hurts in the wake of tragedy. As it turn out, this isn't just hyperbole. The heart and mind actually are connected. On his blog, Dr. Joseph Mercola discusses the documentary Of Hearts and Minds, which explores the human heart as an organ. But, the filmmaker discovers that it's much more complicated than that.
"You can replace your heart with an artificial one, and it won’t affect your ability to love," Dr. Mercola noted. "Yet the idea that your heart is somehow an emotional organ remains." In Of Hearts and Minds, filmmaker David Malone suggested that "the way we see our heart is a reflection of how we view ourselves as human beings," and this notion is as old as humankind itself. Dr. Mercola explained that ancient Egyptians saw the heart as an organ of truth, which makes sense if you think about how your heart speeds up when you feel nervous, afraid, or when you tell a lie. In fact, lie detectors work by measuring changes in your heart rate to discern whether or not you're being truthful.
Additionally, Dr. Mercola reported that David Paterson, Ph.D. a professor at Oxford University, noted that the human heart contains neurons, similar to those in your brain. He said that the heart and brain are closely connected, and they work in tandem to express human emotions. So, if you can't bear to think that the heart is not intertwined with love and romance, don't worry — it is.
"[The heart's] relationship to the brain is more like a marriage ... with each dependent on the other," Malone explained in the film. "It seems science is now restoring to the heart something that rightfully belongs to it: Our emotions." Basically this organ, twice the size of your fist at adulthood, is working hard for you both physically and emotionally, and it's time it got the props it deserves. While it's true that your heart and your emotions are intimately involved with one another, there are tons of other fascinating facts about the human heart.
1. Your Heart Beats 100,000 Times A Day
You likely don't spend a lot of time thinking about your heartbeat, but this muscle is one of the most fascinating parts of the human body. According to NOVA on PBS, the human heart beats an average of 100,000 time a day and 35 million times a year. During your lifetime your heart will beat around 2.5 billion times.
2. Women's Hearts Beat Faster Than Men's Hearts
If you think women are ahead of men, when it comes to the human heart, this is true. The Daily Mail reported that a Canadian study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that a woman's circadian rhythm runs between 1.7 and 2.3 hours, or eight beats per minute, ahead of her male counterparts. Hormonal differences between men and women are thought to be the reason women's hearts beat faster.
3. Your Heart Can Beat Outside Of Your Body
The human heart is a pretty complex muscle, and one of the most interesting things about it is that your heart can beat outside of your body. In an infographic about the human heart Dr. Mercola explained that because the heart has its own electrical system, it can beat outside of your body as long as it has an adequate supply of oxygen.
4. Your Heart Pumps An Incredible Amount Of Blood
During your lifetime, your heart pumps more blood through your body than you can imagine. According to Dr. Mercola, the amount of blood your hearts pumps over the course of your life is equal to kitchen faucet turned on full blast for 45 years.
5. Laughing Can Increase Your Heart's Blood Flow
Need a reason to laugh? According to WebMD, laughing is actually good for your heart. "A good belly laugh can send 20 [percent] more blood flowing through your entire body. One study found that when people watched a funny movie, their blood flow increased. That’s why laughter might just be the perfect antidote to stress."
6. Your Heart Generates Enough Energy To Fly To The Moon
As it turns out, the phrase "I love you to the moon and back" is actually based in fact. The website Fact Retriever reported that your heart generates the same amount of energy in your lifetime as it takes to fly to the moon.
7. Lack Of Sleep Can Cause An Irregular Heartbeat
If you need another reason to make sure you're getting the recommended seven-to-nine hours of shut eye, Science Daily reported that one study revealed lack of sleep can increase your chance of having an irregular heartbeat by up to 29 percent.
8. People In Love Have Synchronized Heartbeats
For all of the romantics out there, a study conducted by the University of California, Davis revealed that when two people are in love their heartbeats synch up. In heterosexual couples, women's heartbeats tend to default to their male partners. "The researchers speculate that women [having] a strong link to their partners may have something to do with them having more empathy," the journal Nature noted.
9. Your Heart Generates Enough Pressure To Squirt Blood 30 Feet
The human heart is strong AF. In fact, it's so strong that your heart's contractions create enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet, according to the website MonkMed. Think of it like a super soaker coming right out of your chest.
10. Being Heartbroken Can Damage Your Heart
If you need more proof that your emotions have an impact on your heart, the Mayo Clinic reported that broken-heart syndrome is a real thing. When you suffer heartbreak, you may have chest pains and shortness of breath that mimic symptoms of a heart attack. "In broken heart syndrome, there's a temporary disruption of your heart's normal pumping function in one area of the heart. The remainder of the heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions. Broken heart syndrome may be caused by the heart's reaction to a surge of stress hormones."
While it's rare, broken heart system can be fatal. From evoking feelings of love and affection, to seamlessly pumping through your body without your being consciously aware of it, the human heart is nothing short of amazing. Take a moment to send a little love to your heart to thank it for working nonstop like a boss.