Anatomy of the Heart

This is a heart-focused community so I figured it would be neat to start out with a little heart anatomy. Trust me, this can come in handy when we are learning about the different diseases of the heart. So, here's some basic anatomy of your heart, 101-style.

What does your heart look like?

Let’s get a good idea of what your heart looks like and how it sits within your chest.1

  • Your heart itself is a muscle about. In kids, it’s about the same size as a fist.
  • Your heart sits in the center of your chest. However, about ⅔ of the mass of your heart is on the left side of your chest. For this reason, it gives the appearance of being on your left.
  • Your heart is one organ. But, you actually have two hearts.
  • You have a right heart and a left heart.
  • Your right heart has two chambers. The top chamber is called the right atria. The bottom chamber is called the right ventricle.
  • The right heart’s job is to pump blood through your lungs.
  • Your left heart also has two chambers. The top chamber is called the left atria. The bottom chamber is called the left ventricle.
  • The left heart’s job is to pump blood through your entire system.

How does blood flow through your heart?

Here’s how blood flows through your heart.2

Venous Blood. This is the blood that contains little or no oxygen. This is blood returning to your heart on its way back to your lungs. Venous blood tends to be a bluish or purplish color. This is because it does not contain oxygen.

Superior Vena Ceva. This is your largest vein. It receives all the venous blood from your entire body and allows it to flow into the right atria during diastole.

Diastole. This means your heart muscles are relaxed. Your heart is in a state of being relaxed. During this time blood fills the chambers of your heart.

Right Atria. It’s the smallest chamber. During diastole, it receives unoxygenated venous blood returning to your heart.

Pacemaker. On the top portion of this chamber is a small cluster of cells that do not contract. These cells make up your natural pacemaker. It is what creates the electrical current that causes both atria to contract at the same time. This impulse then travels to the ventricles to cause them to contract.

Tricuspid Valve. This is a one-way valve between your right atria and right ventricle. When the right atria contracts, blood is forced through it into the right ventricle. It does not allow blood to travel back through it.

Right Ventricle. It’s smaller than the left ventricle. That’s because it only needs to generate a low pressure to pump blood through your lungs.

Pulmonary (Pulmonic) Valve. This is a one-way valve between your right ventricle and your pulmonary artery. It allows blood to travel from the right atria to the pulmonary artery during contraction. But, it prevents blood from traveling back into the ventricle.

Pulmonary Artery. It’s an artery that takes blood from the right ventricle to your lungs. Once in the lungs this blood picks up oxygen and becomes oxygenated.

Arterial Blood. This is the blood that contains freshly oxygenated blood from your lungs. Arterial blood tends to be a bright red color.

Pulmonary Veins. They allow freshly oxygenated blood to flow from your lungs to your left atria.

Left Atria. It receives freshly oxygenated blood from the lungs. During contraction, it pushes this blood through the mitral valve.

Mitral Valve. This is a one-way valve between your the left atria and left ventricle.

Left Ventricle. This is your strongest chamber. It has to be strong because its job is to pump blood through your entire body.

Aortic Valve. This is a one-way valve between your left ventricle and your aorta.
Aorta. This is the largest blood vessel in your body. Through it travels all oxygenated blood on its way to all the arteries and cells of your body.

Heartbeay. Your heartbeat has a lub-dup sound. The lub is the sound of the tricuspid and mitral valves snapping shut. The dup is the sound of the pulmonary and aortic valves snapping shut.

Stay tuned

So, this is just some basic heart anatomy. In future posts, we will investigate how damage to any one of these areas may result in cardiac diseases, such as heart failure. So, stay tuned!

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