The heart is more than a muscle

In an average lifetime, the human heart beats some 2.5 billion times. That’s about 100,000 beats a day, pumping approximately 5.6 liters of blood throughout your body three times every minute. But the heart is so much more than a muscle. It’s actually an intricate muscular organ made of special muscle tissue found only in the heart.

In Centralised & Point of Care Solutions in Roche Diagnostics, or CPS, we develop integrated solutions, including systems, tests, software and services, for a variety of healthcare providers to diagnose and manage many diseases. But I’ll admit I have a soft spot for the heart. 

The heart is vital to the health of other organs and tissues of your body. It takes oxygen-poor blood in, pumps it into the lungs to remove carbon dioxide and replenish oxygen, and then sends that blood back through your body. Over and over and over.

The heart is a wonder – think of all the songs, poems and sayings written about it. And yes, “broken heart syndrome” is real. It’s called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, and it’s caused by a surge of stress hormones brought on by an emotional event – like the death of a loved one or a breakup. Most people recover in weeks, and it’s usually treatable. 

But your heart can “break” in other ways, too. As a leader in diagnostic cardiac testing, CPS focuses on three main cardiovascular diseases: heart failure, atrial fibrillation and coronary artery disease. 

Take a heart attack, for example. If you're having chest pain, you're already afraid and you’ll call the ambulance. In some cases, a diagnostic test is available in the ambulance, or maybe it’s a test in the hospital. Healthcare experts will likely perform what’s known as a troponin T test. 

Troponin T is a heart-specific troponin that’s normally detectable in only small quantities in the blood. But when you're having a heart attack, for instance, the heart muscle gets stressed and damaged, and releases this protein, which ends up in higher quantities in your blood. The faster and more precisely you can detect this, the better. So blood is drawn and tested, and based on the results, they will determine if you are having a heart attack or something else.

Another common test in cardiac care is what’s called a Natriuretic Peptide blood test. A heart in failure can be tested for N-terminal-pro-BNP (NT-pro-BNP.) Typically the more the levels of this protein go up, the more the heart is failing. So this test is a really important tool to help detect and manage heart failure, which is a chronic disease, and help healthcare providers tailor and manage your treatment plan. 

Every hour, multiple people across the world are evaluated with our tests for heart attacks, heart failure or other cardiovascular problems. 

Behind every “cardiac event” is a person – the beating heart of a mother, father, brother, sister, daughter, son ... Diagnostic testing gives health experts clinically relevant insights vital for treating and managing diseases. And those insights become part of potentially life-saving decisions made by physicians for someone you may know.

The heart of the matter? There’s a very real and personal connection for our teams in the power and speed that we have in developing cardiac solutions at Roche, and a sense of urgency in innovating and solving challenges that can ultimately save lives. 

is celebrated every year on 29 September. Cardiovascular disease accounts for nearly half of all non-communicable disease deaths, making it the world’s No. 1 killer. World Heart Day brings awareness and highlights actions we can all take to prevent and control those deaths.

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