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Understanding Your Heart and How it Functions

human heart illustration

You already know how important your heart is and why you should take steps to protect it and keep it healthy both now and in the future. However, despite the incredibly important role the heart plays in our lives, most know very little about it and how it functions.  Aside from pumping blood, are you really able to describe much about the role your heart plays in your day-to-day life?  The answer for many is “no.” So, today, let’s take some steps to remedy that with a basic overview of the heart and what each major section is responsible for in the body.

Human Heart Anatomy

Basic Function of the Heart

Your heart beats over 100,000 times per day, and as it does so, it pumps approximately 5,000 gallons of blood throughout the body.  With each contraction, the left side of the heart is receiving blood from the lungs and pushing it out to the remainder of the body, while the right side is receiving deoxygenated blood and passing it on to the lungs.  More specifically, here is what each of the four chambers does in the process:

What Does the Right Atrium Do?

The largest veins in the human body are the superior and inferior vena cava.  These veins take deoxygenated blood from the body and deliver it to the right atrium.  From here, the right atrium contracts, moving the blood on to the right ventricle.

What Does the Right Ventricle Do?

Upon receiving blood from the right atrium, the right ventricle contracts and pushes blood through the pulmonary artery to the lungs.  Here, the blood receives oxygen and loses carbon dioxide.

What Does the Left Atrium Do?

Once blood receives oxygen, it can return to the heart, specifically the left atrium, via the pulmonary vein.  The atrium then contracts and sends the blood to the left ventricle.

What Does the Left Ventricle Do?

After the left ventricle has received all the blood from the left atrium, it then contracts and delivers it back to the body through the aorta.

Keeping Your Heart Healthy

Now that you understand just how hard your heart is working every second of the day, hopefully you have an even better understanding of why it’s so important to keep it healthy and how a healthy heart impacts every other area of the body.  If you’re ready to learn more about your heart health and what you can do to ensure everything works as well as it should, contact Cardiovascular Institute of the South and request an appointment with one of our cardiologists.

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CIS Staff

Written by CIS Staff