How Blood Flows Through The Heart
Have you ever wondered how blood flows through your heart? As you read this, blood is coursing through your veins and arteries without you having to give it much thought. With each heart beat, blood enters and exits your heart systematically nourishing all of the cells of the body with oxygen and other vital nutrients. When functioning properly, the heart is a dynamic work horse capable of adjusting to the physiological demands placed on it without any specialized efforts on our part.
While the heart is not the most complex organ in our bodies, blood does flow through the heart in a very predictable and orderly way. Our hearts are tasked with pumping oxygen-rich blood to supply all of the body's tissues in order to keep them functioning optimally. Without going into a complex anatomy lesson, imagine your heart divided into two sides, right and left, which are divided by a wall known as the septum. Both the left and ride sides of the heart contain an upper as well as a lower chamber. The upper chambers of the heart, referred to as the atrium, receive incoming blood returning from elsewhere within the body, while the lower chambers, referred to as ventricles, pump the outgoing blood. Blood flows through the heart in one direction only, so there are one-way valves which the blood flows through from chamber to chamber in order to keep blood flowing through the heart in the proper direction
Oxygen-poor blood returning from the body through the veins enters the right atrium of the heart from the body's largest vein, known as the vena cava. Blood flows through the heart from the right atrium into the right ventricle, which contracts, pushing the blood into the pulmonary artery where it enters the pulmonary system to be oxygenated. Once the blood has been oxygenated, it flows through the heart again by entering the left atrium through the pulmonary veins and then passes into the left ventricle, which contracts, pushing the oxygen rich blood into the aorta and out to all of the other arteries in the body. Because the left ventricle has to pump blood to the entire body, the left side of the heart is more muscular than the right.
There are a few unique things occurring when blood flows through your heart. Oxygen-rich blood is moved around the body within the arteries, and oxygen-poor blood is returned to the heart through the veins. The paradox which occurs when blood flows through the heart is that oxygen-poor blood flows through the pulmonary artery to the lungs, and oxygen-rich blood is returned to the heart through the pulmonary veins. This is the only time oxygen-poor blood flows through an artery and oxygen-rich blood flows through veins-the opposite of what occurs throughout the rest of the body. This is the complex process taking place each and every time the heart beats, keeping the body supplied with oxygen-rich red blood cells needed to sustain life.