Table of Contents
Definition and Function
Endocardium is the membrane that lines the inner HEART, made up of epithelial cells.
It also covers the heart valves, providing a smooth surface that offers no opportunity for BLOOD cells (particularly platelets) to stick to it as they pass through the heart.
The endocardium contains Purkinje fibers, specialized MUSCLE cells that convey the electrical impulses that cause the heart to contract, and collagen fibers, which provide elasticity.
The Membrane is vulnerable to damage from conditions such as RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE and VALVULAR HEART DISEASE. These conditions can cause irritation that inflames the membrane, making it susceptible to bacterial INFECTION (ENDOCARDITIS).
For further discussion of cardiovascular structure and function, please see the overview section “The Cardiovascular System.”