Agile Global Health Blog

How does your heart work?

Jan 19, 2017 / A&K Global Health

Here at A&K Global Health’s Cardiac Care 101, our medical team breaks down complex topics related to your heart. Today we cover the basic workings of this powerful organ. Understanding the heart helps us appreciate how to keep it healthy, and what has gone wrong in the case of disease.

What are the different parts of the heart?

The heart has four chambers. The right and left atriums are the two upper chambers that collect blood as it flows into the heart. The right and left ventricles are the two lower chambers that pump blood out of the heart, to the lungs or other parts of the body.

The heart also has four valves tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic – that control the flow of blood. Think of the valves like doors that open and close: they open to allow blood to flow to the next chamber or artery, and close to keep blood from flowing backward.

How does the heart function?

The heart is a pumping machine with two sides. The right side pumps blood to the lungs to collect oxygen. The oxygen-rich blood then returns from the lungs to the left side of the heart, which pumps it to the whole body.

What are some common heart diseases?

There are two kinds of heart diseases: congenital (conditions present since birth) and acquired (conditions developed after birth). Some conditions, like aortic stenosis, can occur as either congenital or acquired.

Common congenital heart diseases include:

Common acquired heart diseases include:

Have questions? Have a disease, treatment, or medical topic you’d like to learn about? Comment on this post to let us know!

 

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