Most of us are unaware of the electricity coursing through our hearts at every moment of every day.  If you take your own pulse right now, you are feeling blood being shot through your arteries by the powerful contractions in your heart, caused by an electrical current.  When all is well, we don’t even notice it – but there is electricity inside us all.

When thinking about the electrical system of the heart, what better place to start than where this electrical impulse begins?

About the SA Node

On the upper right side of your heart (right atrium) there is a bundle of cells called the SA node (sinoatrial node).  This small collection of neurons creates the pulse of power that keeps you alive.  From there, the surge of electricity travels along conducting cells where it makes its first stop – the AV node (atrioventricular node).  This second bundle of cells has two important functions.  First, it delays the electrical impulse just long enough so that the upper chambers can empty all of the blood, before filling up again.  Second, it sends the impulse along to a bundle of other neurons that distribute it into the muscle around the lower chambers of your heart (ventricles).

Your Heart's Electrical System: An Animation from the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (click to visit site)

Your Heart’s Electrical System: An Animation from the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (click to visit site)

Because electricity causes muscle tissue to contract, the walls around the lower chambers of the heart quickly tighten when the impulse reaches them.  This pushes the blood in the right ventricle to the lungs, and the blood in the left ventricle to the rest of the body.  This entire process, when the heart is beating at a normal pace, generally takes less than a second from start to finish.  The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a fantastic animation of this process, showing each step as it happens.

The SA node is critical to maintaining a healthy rhythm to your heart.  For example, during AF (Atrial Fibrillation) the SA node fires very rapidly, causing the heart to go into a fit of quivering, casing fatigue and other, more serious, medical conditions.

If your primary care doctor recommends seeing an EP Doctor, call and make an appointment with Dr Dilip Mathew.  Dr. Mathew, the premier electrophysiologist in Sarasota, has been performing AF ablation in Tampa Bay area since 2004.  Come and see why the heart of Tampa Bay is getting stronger and stronger.