February 8, 2018

How Your Heart Works – My Healthy Life Podcast: Episode 13

If we asked you what the human heart’s main function was, could you give the right answer? You will by the end of this episode of My Healthy Life.

In recognition of Heart Month, we’re talking about the heart of the matter – our hearts. Most episodes of My Healthy Life start with questions, then we bring in our subject matter experts to help answer them. In the spirit of being hearty, we had a lot of questions about this essential organ in our body. How does the heart work? What does it do? What happens when it fails us?

Often we talk about how to take care of our hearts, ways to prevent heart disease or heart attacks, lower or maintain our blood pressure or how to eat heart-healthy. But we found ourselves asking a very basic question during the making of this episode: what is the heart?

It almost seemed too basic, but as we got into this hearty conversation, it helped explain the more complex things – like why, when and how our hearts can fail us.


My Healthy Life Podcast: Episode 13 – How Your Heart Works


This episode’s subject matter expert, Lavone Smith, MD, helps us understand the different parts of the heart and how they all work together for the heart’s main purpose: to supply our bodies with oxygen.

Dr. Smith compares the heart to a house to help explain the different parts, or systems, that keep it running. Like a home’s electrical, plumbing and water systems need regular/preventative maintenance and sometimes special repairs to operate, the heart requires maintenance and specialty care too so it can efficiently deliver oxygen and pump blood throughout our muscles, tissues and organs.

But what happens if or when our hearts can’t deliver oxygen throughout our bodies? Dr. Smith explains what can go wrong, what happens when one part or another isn’t working quite right and the different specialties within cardiology and things we can do to help keep our hearts’ lights on, drains unclogged and water pressure just right.

Listen to more episodes like this: Episode 9: Can Food Really Fuel Your Heart?

Dr. Lavone Smith is a cardiologist at Asheville Cardiologist Associates, an affiliate of Mission Health. She specializes in advanced heart failure and pulmonary hypertension. Her journey as a cardiologist started when she was working as an EMT in high school after an ambulance trip to take a patient having a severe heart attack to the emergency department. Curious about “what happens now?” she learned about heart catheterizations, EKGs and “all different kinds of heart things.” She’s been fascinated by the human heart since and went on to help others live with a healthy heart, and in some cases, even provide people with a second chance at life.

Follow along with Mission Health during Heart Month:

Visit mission-health.org/heartmonth or subscribe to Heart Healthy topics on our blog delivered once a week straight to your inbox every Friday.
Subscribe to My Healthy Life on iTunes. Because healthcare can be complex, we help break it down in 20 minutes or less.

For more than 40 years, Mission Heart has been a regional leader in cardiothoracic surgery and heart care. Mission Heart has been recognized by Truven Health Analytics (a leading authority on clinical quality) as a Top 50 Cardiovascular Hospital for the twelfth time. Mission Heart is one of only two hospitals in the Carolinas to receive this recognition. Only five hospitals in the United States have been named to the Top 50 Cardiovascular Hospital list more times than Mission Heart.


Sign up for the latest in health and wellness, news and updates.