Does The Brain Control The Heart? The Truth Of The Matter
Does the brain control the heart? This question is often asked because the answers are sometimes contradictory. It’s common knowledge that the brain controls how the body reacts. However, does it control the heart, as well?
The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no”. You have to understand first how the brain and the cardiac muscle work before you can truly grasp the answer. Thus, we begin by understanding the heart’s anatomy.
Anatomy of The Heart
The heart is composed of 4 chambers; the left and right atria and the left and right ventricle.
- Read more: What Are The 4 Chambers Of The Heart?
The cardiac muscles function differently than the skeletal and smooth muscles. The cardiac muscles or heart muscles are striated (striped) unlike your skeletal and smooth muscles.
These muscles are involuntary. This denotes that they contract automatically without the brain ‘telling’ them to.
The cardiac muscles have myofibrils, intercalated discs and mitochondria, which work together when the heart pumps blood into the body. Without them the heart would not be able perform its function properly.
The type of muscles in the heart is related to its gross anatomy and to its control. The normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute.
You can obtain your heart rate by placing your index and middle fingers on the artery on your wrist or neck and count the beat per minute.
Does The Brain Control The Heart?
The answer is“yes” and “no”.
Since the muscles of the heart are involuntary, their function is to pump blood continuously, for as long as the person lives. This indicates that the brain does not control the pumping of blood. They do it on their own.
No matter what happens to the rest of the body, the blood will keep pumping, as long as it is not injured. In this aspect the brain has no control over the heart.
However, the rate of the pumping of the cardiac muscles (heart) can be subjected to various factors (external or internal). The rate may increase or decrease depending on the stimulus sent to the brain. In this aspect the brain controls the heart rate.
The heart rate can increase in activities/conditions, such as:
- Illnesses causing tachycardia
The heart rate can decrease in activities/conditions, such as:
- Illnesses causing bradycardia
- Hypothyroidism - insufficient thyroid hormones (T3 or Triidothyronine and T4 or thyroxine)
- Heart attack
- Hypokalemia - low potassium blood levels
- Other heart ailments
When these conditions are fed to the brain, the brain reacts by ‘commanding’ the appropriate reactions to the different parts of the body.
Hence, the answer is “yes” and “no”; the brain cannot control the cardiac muscles from beating because they’re involuntary, but the brain can control how fast or slow the heart beats, through the stimuli coming from the other parts of the body.
Tips in Maintaining Your Normal Heart Rate
Your emotions can trigger the heart to beat more quickly, so learn how to control them. Reportedly, people who are constantly stressed and emotionally unstable have an increased rate of acquiring heart ailments. So, take a deep breath and relax.
Learn to Perform Meditations
Experts have proven that meditation can relax a person. Thus, learn how to meditate regularly and you will become less stressed and anxious.
Eat Less Fat and Dairy Products
Fats from meat and dairy products can be deposited in your blood vessels making your heart beat stronger. This can either increase or decrease your heart rate.
Observe a Healthy Lifestyle
Live a healthy life by avoiding food and activities that would endanger your heart. Take note that anything in excess is not good for the body.
Does the brain control the heart? "Yes" and "no". The brain cannot control the cardiac muscles’ pumping but it can control the heart rate.
Knowing this fact will help you in maintaining your good health. You should learn not to give false stimulus to the brain (i.e. stress) because you might trigger the brain’s response mechanism, which can endanger your health.
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Ciao and have a good day!