Everyone knows that heart is one of the most important organs in our body. Moreover, the heart is an extraordinary machine.
It is a four-chambered muscle that beats 100,000 times a day, pumping 5,000 gallons of blood throughout the body every 24 hours, delivering oxygen and nutrients to our tissues, and removing carbon dioxide and other wastes.
This complex system is composed of three distinct layers: the epicardium (outermost layer), the endocardium (innermost layer), and the myocardium comprised in the middle that contains the muscle fibers that contracts, pumping blood.
The contractions of the muscles are triggered by the electrical impulses produced by sinoatrial node and delivered by the conduction system.
The heart also has valves, which are basically a "doors" to the chambers. They open and shut, regulating the amount of blood that enters and exits the heart.
No wonder this amazing organ, its complex structure, and function attract many interested in a human anatomy, from medical students and other healthcare professionals to enthusiasts.
Besides textbooks, which are still most commonly used resources for learning anatomy, many use mobile apps as a convenient way to study the human body and its systems.
A lot of these apps cover full body anatomy, not just the anatomy of the heart, but there are also apps that focus only on cardiac anatomy.
A while ago, we wrote about the best mobile apps for learning anatomy, with many on the list that could be used to find out more about heart and its functions.
Many of these apps allow a detailed look at the anatomy of the heart thanks to the use of high-quality animations and 3D models.
Some apps, however, don't provide detailed 3D models, but they can be still useful resources for learning heart anatomy.
Heart Illustrated is one of those apps. It is a quick reference to a basic heart anatomy provided in an easy-to-use format, with helpful hand-drawn illustrations.
All illustrations in the app are hand drawn by Maham Karatela, but don't let that fact discourage you from using the app. The illustrations are not sketches or work of an amateur. They are meticulously drawn from scratch covering the most important parts of the heart anatomy, including circulation, chambers, valves, and the conduction system.
The Heart Illustrated app opens to a simple page featuring 5 sections, which include Introduction, explaining the app, illustrations, and references used, and 4 heart anatomy sections, including Coronary Circulation, Chamber Anatomy, Cardiac Valves, and Conduction System.
The app is easy to use an navigate allowing users to quickly open the section they want with just a couple of taps on the screen, which makes Heart Illustrated app perfect for use at the point of care, whether for quick reference or to use with patients when explaining them various cardiac pathologies.
Each illustration is accompanied with textual explanations of structures shown on the image, which don't go into much detail, but rather provide key concepts about the particular structure and function.
The texts are scrollable and perfectly fit. Same applies to the illustrations. They cannot be manipulated, such as zoomed in or rotated, but details and information are visible even on smaller screens.
Having interactive features would be nice, i.e. ability to rotate the image, or "peel" the layers off, however, even static images provide enough useful information. I would also love to be able to highlight the illustrations with the ability to add notes.
It would be good if the author also included illustrations of common heart pathologies and procedures. On the App Store page, authors claimed that the app for anatomic pathology is in progress, however, there hasn't been a single update since the app had been published, back in 2010. This is my biggest, and probably the only objection regarding this app.
I wouldn't call the lack of interactivity or pathology illustrations cons. These were simply suggestions that would make the app better.
Also, the app has a limited availability, because it can be downloaded and used on iPhone and iPad only.
In its current state, I would consider Heart Illustrated app an interesting quick reference for heart anatomy rather than a serious learning tool. The explanations are clear and concise, as well as illustrations despite being drawn by hand.
All this makes the app suitable as a quick reminder on heart anatomy for medical students or potentially for patient education, but not for practicing cardiologists, who might require more serious anatomy app.
However, considering it's basically the one-man effort and it's available for free, Heart Illustrated app has my recommendation.
Benefit: The app is suitable for medical students and patients who want to learn basic heart anatomy