Endocardium - definition and function

Endocardium - definition and function

What is Endocardium, definition and function

Endocardium is the membrane that lines the inner HEART, made up of epithelial cells. The endocardium 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 give the endocardium elasticity. The endocardium is vulnerable to damage from conditions such as RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE and VALVULAR HEART DISEASE. These conditions can cause irritation that inflames the endocardium, making it susceptible to bacterial INFECTION (ENDOCARDITIS).

For further discussion of the endocardium within the context of cardiovascular structure and function, please see the overview section “The Cardiovascular System.”


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