Does a hu­man heart have a fi­nite num­ber of beats?

Focus-Science and Technology - - Q & A - TONY FER­RER, LV

YES. AT AN av­er­age of 80 beats per minute, most of us will man­age less than four bil­lion beats in our lives. But you don’t die be­cause you run out of heart­beats – you run out of heart­beats be­cause you die.

Among mam­mals, the num­ber of heart­beats over the life­span of difffff­fer­ent species is fairly con­stant. So ham­sters’ hearts beat 400 times a minute and they live for about four years, which is 840 mil­lion beats, and an ele­phant man­ages 35bpm for 35 years, or about 640 mil­lion beats to­tal. Those num­bers are sim­i­lar, but that’s just be­cause an­i­mals with faster heart rates are also smaller and more at risk from pre­da­tion and star­va­tion. Their life­spans have evolved to com­pen nsate for this by re­pro­duc­ing early and of­ten – they ‘live fast, die young’. Heart m mus­cle can only re­pair it­self very slowly, so even­tu­ally ev­ery heart will wear o out but not af­ter a spe­cific num­ber of beat ts. blood do­na­tions are taken in the UK ev­ery day, and one in four of us will ne eed a tran­fu­sion at some point in our lives

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