Also in this week's column: Will robots ever become just like humans? Is there such a thing as frigidity? How does the heart differ from other mechanical pumps? Asked by Andrew Lane of North York, Ontario, Canada It is difficult to imagine a mechanical pump anywhere near as good in operating so well over so long as a human …
Not really answering the question
How the heart works is covered in GCSE biology. Physical differences from a mechanical pump are only half the story.
The heart really differs from other mechanical pumps, in a functional sense, in that the pressure remains very low throughout, and this prevents the blood cells from being destroyed (haemolysis). This is one of the major barriers to replacing the heart with a mechanical alternative.
Pumps which do mimic the low pressure conditions tend to be too large to implant in a patient.
One for the editors?
The atria are filled by blood entering the heart through veins, not arteries. This is quite nicely described here http://www.geocities.com/jw31645/heart-n.html
Veins 'bring' blood to the heart, arteries 'take' blood away.
Dr Matthew Benson
Dept of Pharmacology
University of Oxford
"Dr Sally Edwards, CEO of Heart Zones has proposed a set of gender specific formula for predicting Maximum Heart Rate. For males: 210 minus one half your age minus 1 per cent of total body weight plus 4. For females: 210 minus one half your age minus 1 per cent of total body weight plus 0."
"total body weight" -- in what units?
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