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Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Explain the overall structure of the heart.
  2. Identify the layers of the heart wall in histological images.

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The heart is a hollow muscular organ with three layers. The endocardium lies inside and also forms the atrioventricular and semilunar valves. It consists of single-layered squamous epithelium (endothelium).

The myocardium, the cardiac musculature, is the thickest layer of the heart wall. It consists of striated muscles, connective tissue, blood vessels and nerve fibers. The heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) are connected via adhesive contacts and gap junctions (shiny stripes) and form a functional syncytium. The myocardium also contains specialized cardiomyocytes, which form the conduction system of the heart.

The epicardium envelops the heart and corresponds to the visceral sheet of the serous layer of the pericardium.

Watch the following video to learn more about the microscopic anatomy of the heart and its histological appearance:

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Browse atlas

Ready to review all these structures in further detail? Browse our image gallery below:

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