A reader asked us recently: “Where is the heart located…is it on the left side, the right side or the middle of my chest?” Not surprisingly, most of us do not know the answer to that question. Let’s take a closer look.
One of the main reasons that people ask this question is because they have some sort of chest pain and of course the immediate first thought is: “Uh oh, I hope I’m not having a heart attack!” But as I’m sure you’ve discovered over the years, most of the time it’s just a temporary sensation that subsides after a few minutes, a few hours or sometimes even after a few days. It could be gas, it could be a muscle pull, it could even be anxiety. We all get chest pain at one point or another, and often it is nothing to be alarmed about.
However, the pain could of course be a sign of something more serious, including heart problems or a condition related to other organ systems in the body. So you should never ignore any lingering pain in your chest or any other part of your body…it’s always best to check it out just in case. Which leads us to the question of the day…
Where is my heart located exactly?
The heart itself is only the size of a fist, and it’s exact location is behind the breastbone (sternum) and slightly to the left of center, as you can see in the diagram above. So if you are looking down at your body, place your hand right in the center of your chest. Now move it over a tiny bit towards your left side. That’s where your heart is. It sits between the lungs and is on front of your backbone (spine).
Now you might feel pain or pressure exactly in the heart’s location, or the pain might be felt somewhere else. Just because the pain is exactly where your heart is doesn’t mean that you are having a heart attack. Similarly, just because the pain is not on the left side doesn’t mean you are not having a heart attack. So it’s important that you don’t rule anything out based solely on your heart’s location.
Why is the heart located slightly off center towards the left?
This is a very interesting question that is not easily answered. There are many working theories as to why the heart is positioned a bit off center to the left. One of the more plausible theories is that the left ventricle is heavier than the right due to the fact that it requires more force to deliver blood to the entire body. The right ventricle only delivers to the nearby lungs. So because there is an imbalance in size the heart leans towards the left.
Some of the other theories involve the way we develop as mammals as opposed to other species, and the fact that the heart functions more efficiently to the side as opposed to in center where it meets the rigidity of the central sternum.
Whatever the case may be, now you have the answer to the question: Where is the heart located in the body?
What to do about pains in the location of your heart
If you experience any sort of pain in the heart area, be it on the left, right or center, you should not ignore it. Although many times it is not an indication of a heart related event, it could be. Any prolonged tightening or squeezing is something you need to address right away. Burning sensations as well.
Even if it is not directly related to your heart, it could be you lungs, intestines or other organs that are causing the symptoms. Be smart and check out any pain you have right away. It could save your life.