c l i n i c a l f o l i o s : n a r r a t i v e





A D V E R T I S E M E N T

 

Informed Patient's FAQ on Coronary Artery Disease: 7

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

   
 

Both the left and right sides of the heart are divided into two separate chambers called the atria and the ventricles. The left atrium and right atrium receive blood into the heart from the veins, and then pump this blood through the heart's internal valves into the left and right ventricles, respectively.      

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Informed Patient's FAQ on Coronary Artery Disease: 8

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

   
 

The larger, more powerful ventricles then pump the blood out through the arteries toward the body. The left ventricle is the largest and strongest of the heart's chambers,  since the oxygenated blood it pumps must circulate to the entire body, while the smaller right ventricle only needs to pump de-oxygenated blood to the nearby lungs.      

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Informed Patient's FAQ on Coronary Artery Disease: 9

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

   
 

What keeps the blood flowing in the right direction? 

The unidirectional flow of blood in the left and right sides of the heart results from the presence of valves. The valves are thin sheets of tissue located between atria and ventricles, and at the two major outflow vessels of the heart.

The mitral valve and the tricuspid valve are called atrioventricular valves, because they separate the left and right atria from the left and right ventricles. The aortic valve and pulmonic valve separate the left and right ventricles from the aorta (which carries blood to the body) and the pulmonary artery (which carries blood to the lungs).

 When the ventricles contract, blood is forced under the leaflets of the mitral and tricuspid valves, filling them and snapping them shut, thereby stopping blood flow from the atria to the ventricles. At the same time, the force of the blood is opening the valves to the aorta and pulmonary artery. When the atria contract, the atrioventricular valves are forced open and the aortic and pulmonary valves are closed by back pressure of the blood in those arteries.  

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This page was last modified on 6/3/1999.