The heart is a hollow muscular organ that pumps blood throughout the blood vessels to various parts of the body by repeated, rhythmic contractions. It is found in all animals with a circulatory system, which includes the vertebrates.
The adjective cardiac means “related to the heart” and comes from the Greek καρδιά, kardia, for “heart”. Cardiology is the medical speciality that deals with cardiac diseases and abnormalities.
The vertebrate is principally composed of cardiac muscle and connective tissue. Cardiac muscle is an involuntary striated muscle tissue specific to the heart and is responsible for the heart’s ability to pump blood.
The average human heart, beating at 72 beats per minute, will beat approximately 2.5 billion times during an average 66 year lifespan, and pumps approximately 4.7-5.7 litres of blood per minute. It weighs approximately 250 to 300 grams (9 to 11 oz) in females and 300 to 350 grams (11 to 12 oz) in males.
The structure can vary among the different animal species. (See Circulatory system.) Cephalopods have two “gill hearts” and one “systemic heart”. In vertebrates,it lies in the anterior part of the body cavity, dorsal to the gut. It is always surrounded by a pericardium, which is usually a distinct structure, but may be continuous with the peritoneum in jawless and cartilaginous fish. Hagfish, uniquely among vertebrates, also possess a second heart-like structure in the tail.