Cardiac muscle

Cardiac muscle is a specialised type of involuntary muscle tissue found only in the walls of the heart. Forming the bulk of the wall of each heart

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Fig 4.3 Cardiac muscle tissue

Fig 4.4 Smooth/involuntary muscle tissue chamber, cardiac muscle contracts rhythmically and continuously to provide the pumping action necessary to maintain a relatively consistent flow of blood throughout the body. Cardiac muscle resembles voluntary muscle tissue in that it is striated due to the actin and myosin filaments. However, it differs in two ways:

• It is branched in structure.

• It has intercalated discs in between each cardiac muscle cell which form strong junctions to assist in the rapid transmission of impulses throughout an entire section of the heart, rather than in bundles.

The contraction of the heart is automatic. The stimulus to contract is stimulated from a specialised area of muscle in the heart called the sinoatrial (SA) node which controls the heart rate.

As the heart has to alter its force of contraction due to regional requirements, its contraction is regulated not only by nerves but also by hormones such as adrenaline in the blood which can speed up contractions.

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