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Every Heart Beat

heart shape

Every Heart Beat

 

Recently a close friend of mine was having heart trouble, his heart rate sped up very fast and he had to spend time in the hospital. The tests found that he has an irritable portion of his heart muscle that triggers this rapid heartbeat. Fortunately, he is recovering from this event, but it looks like he is going to need to have a surgical procedure to solve this issue long term.

All of this, got me thinking about how amazingly complex and fine-tuned our electrical system found in our hearts is. We just expect this system to work seamlessly, delivering blood supply to all of the cells in our body. The electrical properties of our hearts is so incredible. This is what I would like to explore in today’s post.

Without getting too technical, I would like to explain some of the characteristics and properties found in both the muscle as a whole, and also what is happening in individual heart muscle cells as well.

stop watch

There is an electrical pathway of conduction that starts in the upper chamber of the heart (atria) that causes that chamber to contract first. This contraction pumps the blood downward into the main chamber called the ventricle. This electrical pathway also has a lateral branch from the left side of the heart to the right, so that both atria beat at the same time. The timing of this sequence is amazingly coordinated, including a pause that allows time for the blood to fill the lower chamber before the electrical pathway triggers the main ventricle to contract and send out blood to the rest of the body. If you were to look at an EKG, this is measuring (in real time) what this electrical conduction system is doing.

12 lead

The components that are necessary for our hearts to beat is most certainly the product of design. Any creature with a heartbeat would require that this complex system be fully functional at the very outset of origin. Any idea that small random changes over time could account for the heart to go from partly functional to fully functional by natural selection alone is honestly absurd.

To explain this complexity of design in a further manner, it is interesting to note what is happening electrically in individual cells of heart muscle. In addition to the pathways described above. The individual cells actually contract by the shifting of chemicals across individual cell membranes. Sodium, potassium and calcium are the primary ingredients in this process. In order to contract, these cell membranes go through a process of varying permeability to allow these fluid shifts to occur. There is a complex gradient of the amount of permeability that each cell membrane allows. This goes from being freely open to partially closed, to completely closed. The technical amount of timing and the amount of closure is critical for each individual heartbeat to happen. Often times these fluid shifts continue temporally after a living individual has actually died.

I am reminded of a song by Amy Grant, one line says "every heartbeat belongs to you." Truly our every heartbeat belongs to God. He is the creator and sustainer of the universe!

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalms 139:14