Basic Heart Anatomy and Physiology

In order to help heart patients understand the reasoning behind undergoing their heart procedure, it is best to understand basic heart anatomy and physiology of heart function.

The basic heart anatomy: heart muscle, heart chambers, heart valves, electrical impulses, AV node, SA node, coronary arteries, and blood.  The 4 chambers of the heart are the left atrium, the right atrium, the left ventricle and the right ventricle.

The aortic valve is located between the left ventricle and the aorta.  The mitral valve is located between the left atrium and the left ventricle.  The tricuspid valve is located between the right atrium and the right ventricle.  The pulmonic valve is located between right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.

Arteries take blood away from the heart.  Veins carry blood to the heart.  The aorta is the main artery that stems out of the heart.  Smaller arteries branch off the aorta.  The vena cava (there is a superior vena cava and an inferior vena cava) drain blood from the whole body.  The vena cava carry blood back to the heart.

Heart physiology overview: Heart physiology is very complex.  The heart has three major components that make it function. There is an electrical component, a blood component, and a pumping component. There are two top chambers called atria and two bottom chambers called ventricles. The top chambers receive from and to the body and lungs. The bottom chambers (ventricles) pump blood to the lungs and body.

Heart physiology would not be effective without something telling it to pump blood.  The heart knows to pump when it receives electrical impulses. The impulse travels from the top chamber into the mid portion of the heart and then relays the signal to the bottom chambers. During the electrical impulse, the heart pumps blood to the chambers and then to the body and lungs. The right side of the heart receives blood from the body (right atrium) and pumps blood (right ventricle) to the lungs for oxygenation. The oxygenated blood then travels to the left atrium. The blood then travels to the left ventricle which pumps the blood to the whole body via the aorta.

The heart pumping function occurs in sync because of the orchestrated electrical impulse that serves like a musical conductor in organizing all the movement in the heart. Many things may disturb this intricate organization leading to arrhythmias (irregular rhythms) and heart dysfunction.

The above represents basic anatomy and physiology of the heart.  Any problems in the pathway above lead to dysfunction of the heart.  This leads to diseases and heart symptoms.