Many people think about whether insects have heart attacks, particularly if they have pet ants at home, and want to know about the possible risks to avoid death.
Can Ants Have Heart Attacks? Ants cannot have heart attacks because they have an open circulatory system, and there is no risk of blockage of arteries. In addition, the absence of red blood cells in the hemolymph, and the direct bathing of tissues helps avoid a shortage of oxygen to the muscles.
It is interesting to know that ants are not prone to heart failure or loss of cardiac muscle functioning because they have a simpler mechanism of pumping blood in their body. They have a small heart.
It is not common in animals in addition to insects, as they can only get coronary disease, but cardiac muscle failure is not observed. However, some pet birds and animals can have mild attacks.
Why can ants not have heart attacks?
There is no risk of a heart attack in the tiny ants as their bodies lack a four-chambered structure, lungs, and red blood cells that are usually responsible for the blockage.
Open circulatory system
Ants do not have a closed circulatory system based on blood vessels like arteries and veins carrying blood separately. There is only one blood vessel carrying blood from the brain to the abdomen.
These insects have only one larger dorsal vessel instead of a network of tubes, as there is no space for separate tubes in the small area.
Moreover, they do not have chambered hearts like higher animals because their growth period is shorter than others. Eggs can become adult insects in a few days, having less time for development.
There is less time for such advanced developments; their internal organs are simpler, like the digestive system. In addition, they have a smaller two-chambered structure at the end of the aorta.
This structure contains Ostia or valves to control the flow of flood as they contract to release the blood and expand when it gets filled with blood.
In addition, they have a lesser risk of artery blockage because it is wider and maintains efficient blood flow within the body.
The situation could get worse if they had a network of tiny blood vessels that block blood flow to the blood-purifying organ and lead to the unavailability of nutrients and blood to the cells.
Fat deposition in the abdomen
It is a natural behavior of ants to store food in their abdomen in the form of fats, which appears twice their actual size. However, this fatty layer on the abdomen has no negative effect.
These chubby insects do not have the risk of clogging the dorsal aorta as their fat is stored on the inner side of their abdomen without causing any interference in the blood flow.
However, the higher animals are prone to attacks because the excessive fatty material accumulates within their arteries, leading toward the heart.
Accordingly, this plaque accumulation restricts the flow of blood and makes pumping organs deficient in oxygen, which results in failure or loss of function.
So, there is no risk of such attacks and loss of functioning in cardiac muscles due to the fatty layer in their bodies, as it is not a permanent deposition.
They consume it slowly when they find no food in their surroundings without becoming a permanent layer of fats that are supposed to create a problem.
Absence of lungs
They do not have complex lungs for breathing purposes like other living organisms, as their internal systems are simple and contain tiny holes all over the body.
Spiracles or breathing holes in their body help transfer oxygen to the body parts. However, there is no particular organ that controls oxygen transport and reduces the risk of heart attacks.
Moreover, the tracheal tubes pass oxygen molecules through breathing holes to the internal fluid or hemolymph in the dorsal aorta, which is responsible for bathing body tissues.
The hemolymph transfers nutrients and oxygen to different body parts when it flows between the head region and abdomen and provides energy to cells.
Its heart cannot stop working due to a deficiency of oxygen if they have arteries because oxygen comes inside the body directly from the external environment through multiple holes.
Absence of red blood cells
One of the prominent reasons for no risk of a heart attack in ants is the absence of red blood cells because these cells constitute a significant proportion of animal blood.
These cells carry oxygen from breathing organs or lungs to different body parts. In addition, they can also transfer carbon dioxide molecules to the lungs for exhalation.
Usually, red blood cells cannot reach the pumping organ and affect muscle functioning when there is a large clot in the dorsal duct restricting the smooth flow of blood to blood-pumping organs.
Organ muscles can get damaged or destroyed if they do not get sufficient oxygen or proper blood flow to maintain their activity.
So, the absence of red blood cells means no oxygen-transporting cells can get blocked due to clotting in the ducts. Instead, the blood receives oxygen directly from spiracles and reaches the heart.
Accordingly, ants cannot feel any severe symptoms due to failure of cardiac muscles, like squeezing, aching, or tightness, in addition to physical discomfort and shortness of breath.
When do ants feel like they have heart attacks?
Ants do not possess a complex structure like a heart as their circulatory system is open, which contains no blood vessels, and hemolymph flows in the dorsal duct.
It avoids the risk of attacks that can occur when the cardiac muscles cannot get enough oxygen to keep their cells in working condition.
However, they can feel physical discomfort and stress when the tracheal openings that bring oxygen inside the body get blocked.
It feels like a heart attack, but its effect is not abrupt and severe, as they can survive without oxygen for a long and even close the tracheal openings by themselves when they have the risk of flooding.
What insects can have heart attacks?
Insects have no risk of heart attacks because their internal mechanisms and physical structures differ from other living organisms.
They do not possess complex organs based on a chambered heart and narrow blood vessels that are spread all over their body and keep the oxygenated blood separate from deoxygenated.
Their body size is smaller, which cannot keep bigger organs and survive on simpler mechanisms. They have no risk of coronary artery blockage and fat deposition due to open blood flow.
So, there is no proof for happenings like heart attacks in these tiny creatures as their body systems and complexity of organs are not advanced and differ from higher animals.