Question:

What role does the unique structure of cardiac muscle play in its function?

Answer:

Cardiac muscle can stretch like smooth muscle, and contract with the force of a skeletal muscle allowing it to twitch, or beat.

More Info:

Cardiac muscle (heart muscle) is a type of involuntary striated muscle found in the walls and histological foundation of the heart, specifically the myocardium. Cardiac muscle is one of three major types of muscle, the others being skeletal and smooth muscle. These three types of muscle all form in a process known as myogenesis. The cells that constitute cardiac muscle, called cardiomyocytes or myocardiocytes, contain only one, unique nucleus. Coordinated contractions of cardiac muscle cells in the heart propel blood out of the atria and ventricles to the blood vessels of the left/body/systemic and right/lungs/pulmonary circulatory systems. This complex of actions makes up the systole of the heart.

Cardiac muscle cells, like all tissues in the body, rely on an ample blood supply to deliver oxygen and nutrients and to remove waste products such as carbon dioxide. The coronary arteries fulfill this function.

Anatomy

The muscular system is an organ system consisting of skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscles. It permits movement of the body, maintains posture, and circulates blood throughout the body. The muscular system in vertebrates is controlled through the nervous system, although some muscles (such as the cardiac muscle) can be completely autonomous. Together with the skeletal system it forms the musculoskeletal system, which is responsible for movement of the human body.]citation needed[

Biology Muscle

Smooth muscle is an involuntary [non-[striated muscle]]. It is divided into two sub-groups; the single-unit (unitary) and multiunit smooth muscle. Within single-unit smooth muscle tissues, the autonomic nervous system innervates a single cell within a sheet or bundle and the action potential is propagated by gap junctions to neighboring cells such that the whole bundle or sheet contracts as a syncytium (i.e., a multinucleate mass of cytoplasm that is not separated into cells). Multiunit smooth muscle tissues innervate individual cells; as such, they allow for fine control and gradual responses, much like motor unit recruitment in skeletal muscle.

Smooth muscle is found within the walls of blood vessels (such smooth muscle specifically being termed vascular smooth muscle) such as in the tunica media layer of large (aorta) and small arteries, arterioles and veins. Smooth muscle is also found in lymphatic vessels, the urinary bladder, uterus (termed uterine smooth muscle), male and female reproductive tracts, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, arrector pili of skin, the ciliary muscle, and iris of the eye. The structure and function is basically the same in smooth muscle cells in different organs, but the inducing stimuli differ substantially, in order to perform individual effects in the body at individual times. In addition, the glomeruli of the kidneys contain smooth muscle-like cells called mesangial cells.

Skeletal muscle is a form of striated muscle tissue which is under the control of the somatic nervous system; that is to say, it is voluntarily controlled. It is one of three major muscle types, the others being cardiac and smooth muscle. As their name suggests, most skeletal muscles are attached to bones by bundles of collagen fibers known as tendons.

Skeletal muscle is made up of individual components known as myocytes, or "muscle cells", sometimes colloquially called "muscle fibers". They are formed from the fusion of developmental myoblasts (a type of embryonic progenitor cell that gives rise to a muscle cell) in a process known as myogenesis. These long, cylindrical, multinucleated cells are also called myofibers.

Muscle fiber generates tension during the action of actin and myosin cross-bridge cycling. While under tension, the muscle may lengthen, shorten, or remain the same. Although the term contraction implies shortening, when referring to the muscular system, it means muscle fibers generating tension with the help of motor neurons (the terms twitch tension, twitch force, and fiber contraction are also used).

Voluntary muscle contraction is controlled by the central nervous system. The brain sends signals, in the form of action potentials, through the nervous system to the motor neuron that innervates several muscle fibers. In the case of some reflexes, the signal to contract can originate in the spinal cord through a feedback loop with the grey matter. Involuntary muscles such as the heart or smooth muscles in the gut and vascular system contract as a result of non-conscious brain activity or stimuli proceeding in the body to the muscle itself.

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