In the lab, pig hearts can be stinky but valuable opportunities to learn more about the structure and function of our own hearts.
Pigs, like humans, have a mammalian heart plan and two types of circulation. Their hearts contain four chambers – two pairs made of one atrium and ventricle.
In pulmonary circulation, the right side pumps deoxygenated blood from the superior and inferior vena cava into the lungs. In systemic circulation, the blood - now packed with fresh oxygen - goes to the left side, which pumps it back into the bloodstream through the vessels of the aortic arch.
As food, pig hearts are highly nutritious. They’re packed with protein and an assortment of vitamins and minerals. Pig hearts are often served grilled, broiled, or pan-fried, and come with a rich, tender flavor that is less strong than other organ meats.
Unlike sheep hearts, which have a few slight differences from the human heart structure, such as the presence of a posterior vena cava, a pig heart is very similar to a human heart.
This pig heart labeled diagram can be a valuable reference for learning the similarities between pig and human hearts. It is also helpful as a visual aid for laboratory activities involving pig heart dissection.