Where is the heart located | Heart and Circulation

where is the heart locatedWhere is the heart located is a classic question of anatomy, whose typical answer is: in the center of the thoracic cavity, exactly between the two lungs. The position of the heart means that the latter resides anteriorly to the aforementioned lungs and the vertebral tract including T5-T8, behind the sternum (which protects it) and the costal cartilage of the III, IV and V pair of ribs, and superiorly to the diaphragm.  The heart is in a strategic position to best fulfil its function as a blood pump.

In the center of the thoracic cavity, in the mediastinum;

Between the two lungs; At the same height as the spine between the thoracic vertebra T5 and the thoracic vertebra T8; Behind the sternum and above the central section of the diaphragm. Located in the center of the chest, the heart is an uneven, hollow and predominantly muscular organ, which, in adult humans, weighs 250-350 grams and measures 12-13 centimeters in length, 8-9 centimeters in width and about 6 centimeters thick. The heart can be divided into two sections separated by a septum: the right section and the left section; each section of the heart includes two overlapping interconnected cavities: for the right section, the two cavities are the right atrium and the underlying right ventricle; while, for the left section, the two cavities are the left atrium and the underlying left ventricle. Wrapped in a special bag called the pericardium, the heart is connected to the main blood vessels of the human body: the right atrium joins the upper and lower hollow veins; the right ventricle is joined to the pulmonary artery; the left atrium is joined to the pulmonary veins; finally, the left ventricle is connected to the aorta. At the level of the walls that make up the cavity, the heart is characterized by the presence of a very special muscle tissue, as it is capable of self-control, which is called myocardium. The heart is the central organ of the circulatory system; thanks to the 4 muscular cavities of which it is supplied and to the important vessels to which it is connected, in fact, the heart acts as a pump that: It introduces in the lungs the blood poor in oxygen (of return from the organs and the peripheral tissues), so that this can be oxygenated at the level of the alveoli, and It distributes oxygenated blood (back from the lungs) in the organs and peripheral tissues, so as to guarantee them the nourishment they need for their well-being. By alternating between the release of blood into the lungs and its distribution to the organs and peripheral tissues, the heart has a continuous activity, which is essential to provide the body with the oxygen it needs.

Heart in the Chest

The heart is located in the centre of the thoracic cavity, in a virtual anatomical space called the mediastinum, which also contains the esophagus, the trachea, the phrenic and cardiac nerves, the thoracic duct, the thymus and the thoracic lymph nodes. The mediastinum is the virtual compartment of the thoracic cavity delimited by: the parietal pleuras that wrap around the lungs, laterally; the sternum and the costal cartilages of the III, IV, V and VI pair of ribs, anteriorly; the diaphragm, inferiorly; the thoracic spine, posteriorly; the terminal end of the first pair of ribs, superiorly. Inside the thoracic cavity, the heart lies in front of the two lungs, almost leaning against them. The close relationship between the heart and the lungs is reflected in the presence of a depression, a hollow, on the medial region of the anterior surface of the lungs themselves; this depression is called a cardiac hollow (or cardiac impression). The heart print on the medial region of the anterior surface of the lungs appears as an excavated area. It is interesting to note that the heart socket is more accentuated in the left lung; this is explained by the fact that the heart tends, from right to left, to an anterior-posterior deviation, such that it is more advanced with the right section (therefore more detached from the right lung) and more backward with the left section (therefore more towards the left lung). In the centre of the thorax, the heart is slightly oblique, with the upper apex pointing to the right and the lower apex pointing to the left.

Further enrich the information about where is the heart located

It is useful to indicate the organs and blood vessels bordering the heart and their position with respect to the heart. More specifically, the organs and blood vessels bordering the heart are: The lungs. The lungs reside immediately behind the heart, welcoming the latter into the aforementioned cardiac footprint. The pulmonary artery consolidates the relationship between the lungs and the heart. Starting from the right ventricle of the heart, it branches out to reach the lungs, in order to transport the oxygen-poor blood to them. The sternum. Bone of the thoracic cage used to accommodate the costal cartilage of the coasts, the sternum is located in front of the heart and has the task of protecting the heart. The first part of the descending aorta. The descending aorta is the third and last important section of the aorta, the great artery that comes from the left ventricle and that has the task of distributing, through its many ramifications, the blood to the organs and peripheral tissues.  Subsequent to the ascending aorta and the aortic arch, the first tract of the descending aorta (or thoracic tract of the descending aorta) resides behind the heart. The costal cartilages belonging to the III, IV and sometimes V pair of ribs. The costal cartilages are the cartilaginous structures found at the intersection of the coasts with the sternum. The costal cartilages belonging to the III, IV and sometimes V pair of ribs are located in front of the heart. The diaphragm. Compared to the heart, the diaphragm is located below. The thoracic vertebrae of the T5-T8 tract. The thoracic vertebrae are posterior to the heart.

The heart is in a strategic position to best fulfil its function as a blood pump. In the position in which it is located, the heart is able to quickly sort the oxygenated blood into the organs that need it most, such as the brain and abdominal organs. If, for example, the heart were to be in the abdomen, the blood flow to the brain would be affected and the activity of this vital organ would be impaired. Thanks to its rather central position within the human body, the heart is able to convey extremely effectively the oxygen-poor blood that has passed through the peripheral organs and tissues and needs to flow into the lungs to re-oxygenate itself. If the heart were in a more decentralized position, the return of oxygen-poor blood from the more distant districts would be more complex.


In some individuals, the heart is located, along with all other thoracic and abdominal organs, in a position mirroring the canonical one; this not very common condition is called situs inversus totalis or situs viscerum inversus totalis. People with situs inversus totalis are healthy and have the same life expectancy as those with internal organs arranged in the classical way. In people with situs inversus totalis, the heart is arranged obliquely with right orientation (instead of left), the ascending colon occupies the lower left side of the abdomen (instead of right), the descending colon is on the lower right side of the abdomen (instead of left), the liver is on the upper left side of the abdomen (instead of the right), the pancreas is between epigastrium and right hypochondrium (instead of between epigastrium and left hypochondrium), the spleen is in the upper right abdominal region (in the right hypochondrium, instead of in the left hypochondrium) etc..

Clinical Meaning

For doctors, knowing where the heart is is is essential to be able to assess the behavior of heart cavities and heart valves that regulate the passage of blood through these cavities. In fact:

By placing the stethoscope in specific points of the chest (auscultation of the heart), obviously within the area occupied by the heart, doctors are able to “hear” the noise emitted by heart valves, when they are activated to regulate the flow of blood between atria and ventricles and between ventricles and large vessels; By placing the electrodes for the electrocardiogram exactly where the heart is, cardiologists have the ability to monitor the electrical activity that regulates the contraction of the heart cavities.

Heart valves

There are 4 heart valves: the tricuspid valve, located between the right atrium and the right ventricle; the pulmonary valve, located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery; the mitral valve, located between the left atrium and the left ventricle; and finally, the aortic valve, located between the left ventricle and the aorta. Heart valve auscultation takes place in 4 specific areas of the thoracic region, called: aortic region, lung region, tricuspid region and mitral region. The aortic region is the auscultation zone of the aortic valve and, anatomically, corresponds to the portion of the right sternal border between the 2nd and 3rd intercostal space of the right sternal border. The pulmonary region is the auscultation zone of the pulmonary valve and anatomically corresponds to the portion of the left sternal border between the 2nd and 3rd intercostal space of the left sternal border. The tricuspid region is the auscultation zone of the tricuspid valve and anatomically corresponds to the portion of the left sternal border between the 3rd and 6th intercostal space (i.e. the 4th and 5th intercostal space).  The mitral region is the auscultation zone of the mitral valve and, anatomically speaking, corresponds to the portion, which, along the hemiclavicular line, takes place between the 5th and 6th intercostal space. This in-depth study of heart valve auscultation is intended to be further proof of the importance for a doctor of precise knowledge of where the heart is located.

Heart and sport

Exercising a physical activity is very important. The body needs to work, as it can be in a prolonged state of rest due to illness. Exercise improves health by increasing the function of the various physiological processes. Some even claim that athletic activity prolongs life. Heart and sportAlthough this is disputed by many, there is no doubt that an activity that is not excessively tiring is an advantage for health. Very often, in fact, one can notice a certain organic improvement with the simple resumption of physical activity in sedentary subjects. Movement brings about a sense of physical well-being, allowing nervous tension to be relieved, especially in psycho-neurotic individuals. Moreover, it fights insomnia, maintains an ideal weight, serves to develop without imbalance the muscle masses, to remove or reduce structural disharmonies and to ward off some diseases that more easily affect weak physicists (respiratory tract disorders in the cold season, digestive disorders resulting in headaches, etc..). But above all, physical activity can exert an energetic prophylactic action on the cardiovascular system, of which the heart is the main element. The heart is like a pump, whose fundamental task in the body’s economy is to supply all the cells with oxygenated blood, which is essential in order for them to carry out their metabolic functions. The heart provides the necessary strength for the progression of the blood, which in turn transports the food to all parts of the body taking away the waste products from the metabolism. The substances that are most transported are oxygen, carbon dioxide, lactic acid and glucose. Thanks to its rhythmic contraction, the heart sends blood both into the pulmonary circulation, where the respiratory exchanges take place (so that the red blood cells release outside carbon dioxide enriching with oxygen), and into the systemic circulation, to perform metabolic functions.

Cardiac activity

Made up of systole and diastole, is achieved by the action of central and peripheral nerve structures, independent of the will, which carry stimuli to the heart. The heart is therefore an untiring machine, whose possible stoppage, even for a few seconds, causes irreversible lesions to the most sensitive cells and those most in need of oxygen, such as those of the nervous system. From this simple observation it is possible to understand the importance of this organ for a perfect physical efficiency, but also the need to treat it with due caution, especially in relation to physical activity. The heart adapts to physical work with functional changes, which result in an increase in heart rate and systolic output, and then in the output or output of the heart (amount of blood expelled in one minute). Being a muscle of resistance, the mechanism of adaptation of the range is compensated by an increase in the length of the cardiac fibers, directly proportional to the strength of the myocardial contractility .  For this reason, athletes have a hypertrophic heart; depending on the type of sport, and therefore the type of overload, we distinguish two types of hypertrophy of the athlete’s heart:

concentric hypertrophy (with symmetrical increase in the parietal thicknesses of the left ventricle and reduction in its diameters), typical of power training with pressure overload in a short time, and eccentric hypertrophy with increase in the parietal thicknesses of the left ventricle and consensual increase in its diameters, typical of endurance sports with volumetric overload. Cross-country athletes normally enlarge the right side (due to increased pulmonary resistance to circulation and increased venous inflow). On the contrary, short and intense efforts increase the thickness of the left heart, due to the increase of the blood pressure in the systemic circulation (this phenomenon is usually found in the physical culture at competitive level). With training, especially in cross-country sports, a reduction in resting heart rate is also appreciated, thanks to the development of a hypertone in the vagal nervous system; all this is compensated for by the fact that each systolic contraction occurs more vigorously. In order for these adaptations to occur without damage, it is essential to approach the sport in a light way, and then gradually increase its intensity.

Heart keep him healthy

Cardiovascular diseases are the most frequent cause of death. We are talking about a rather wide and varied set of diseases, which – as the name suggests – affect the heart, blood vessels (arteries, capillaries and veins) or both. Of all cardiovascular diseases, ischaemic heart disease is the most common, and also the one that has the highest number of victims. Suffice it to say that its maximum and most serious consequence, myocardial infarction is the most frequent cause of mortality in the . The heart draws its nourishment from the blood that arrives through the coronary circulation, essentially consisting of two arteries (left coronary artery and right coronary artery) and its ramifications. Due to aging and numerous predisposing factors, the wall of the arteries (including those of the coronary arteries) undergoes alterations that, slowly but surely, lead to the formation of deposits of white blood cells, lipids and scar tissue known as atheromas (or atherosclerotic plaques). The presence of atheromas hinders the passage of blood into the artery, reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients available to the tissues sprayed by that artery and its ramifications. In medical terms, the absolute or partial lack of blood in an organ is called ischemia, and when referring to the heart it is referred to as cardiac ischemia or ischemic heart disease. There are many possible causes of ischaemic heart disease. The most common is undoubtedly the partial or total obstruction of a coronary vessel, which in turn depends in most cases on the formation of atheromas just described. What distinguishes ischaemic heart disease from many other cardiovascular diseases is the possibility of preventing it through various interventions, both behavioural and pharmacological.