Understanding the Basic Structure and Function of the Heart

Medical Illustration of a Heart

The heart is a muscular organ made up of valves, chambers, and blood vessels. It is about the size of a fist and weighs approximately one pound. The heart works to circulate blood to provide the body with oxygen and nutrients and to remove waste materials. To accomplish this, the heart pumps approximately five quarts of blood every minute. Read on to learn more about the basic structure and function of the heart.

The Chambers
There are four chambers in the heart. The upper chambers are the atria and the lower chambers are the ventricles. They are referred to as the left or right atria and the left or right ventricles. The chambers on the right side pump blood to the lungs so that it can be replenished with oxygen. The chambers on the left side pump the oxygenated blood back through the body. The septa, which are “walls” made of muscle, keep the left and right chambers separate so that the oxygenated blood does not mix with the oxygen-depleted blood.

The Valves
Your heart has four valves that are made of tissue and can open and close just like a gate. These valves are the tricuspid, pulmonic, aortic, and mitral valve. They work to prevent the blood from flowing in the wrong direction. As the atria contract, the blood is forced through the mitral and tricuspid valves into the ventricles. As the ventricles contract, blood flows from the left ventricle through the aortic valve. Blood also flows from the right ventricle through the pulmonary valve and into the lungs.

The Blood Vessels
Blood vessels are another important component of the heart. Veins transport blood from the rest of the body to the heart to receive more oxygen. Arteries transport blood from the heart to the body. The aorta, which is the largest artery, receives blood from the left ventricle. The right ventricle pumps into the pulmonary trunk, which then divides into pulmonary arteries to bring blood to the lungs.

To learn more about your heart and how you can keep it healthy, contact the qualified cardiologists of Cardiac Solutions. We serve Phoenix-area patients who require diagnostic testing, surgical treatments, and more. Make an appointment at our heart clinic today by calling (623) 876-8816.


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