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Cardiac physiology 

Cardiac physiology
Chapter:
Cardiac physiology
Author(s):

Rhys D. Evans

, Kenneth T. MacLeod

, Steven B. Marston

, Nicholas J. Severs

, and Peter H. Sugden

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0339
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date: 25 February 2021

The function of the heart is to pump sufficient oxygenated blood containing nutrients, metabolites, and hormones to meet moment-to-moment metabolic needs and preserve a constant internal environment. The heart has two essential characteristics—contractility and rhythmicity. The nervous system and neurohumoral agents modulate relationships between the venous return to the heart, the outflow resistance against which it contracts, the frequency of contraction, and its inotropic (contractile) state; there are also intrinsic cardiac autoregulatory mechanisms. An understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing cardiac cell behaviour and the mechanical, electrical, and hormonal control of the heart at a whole organ level is essential for the understanding of cardiac pathophysiology.

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