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(3) Heart Attack and Cardiac Disorders

How many heart valves are present, and how does the heart carry out blood circulation?

There are four valves in the heart. The  mitral valve is situated between the left atrium and left ventricle.

The aortic valve is located at the outlet of the left ventricle. These two heart valves open and close harmoniously and rhythmically to  allow the blood to circulate at the left half of the heart. The circulation of the other half of the heart is carried out by the tricuspid valve and the pulmonic (pulmonary) valve. The tricuspid valve is located between the right atrium and the right ventricle, and the pulmonic valve is situated at the outlet of the right ventricle.

The right ventricle pumps blood to the left lung through the pulmonic arteries after the tricuspid valve closes, and the pulmonic valve opens in order to pick up oxygen (oxygenated blood). This process is essential for life. This oxygenated blood returns to the left atrium by way of the pulmonary veins (blood vessels that carry oxygen-poor blood and waste products back to the heart from various organs and tissues), and again the blood is pushed down to the left ventricle through the mitral valve. The left ventricle pumps the oxygenated blood and important nutrients after the mitral valve closes and the aortic valve opens. The aorta and its branches (which are elastic muscular tubes) then carry the blood to all parts of the body.

The aorta is the largest trunk-like artery (a blood vessel supplying nutrients and oxygen-rich blood from the heart to various organs and tissues). It has a diameter about equal to that of a large garden hose. From the aorta, many arteries, including the coronary (heart) arteries, branch off to take fresh blood (blood loaded with oxygen and nutrients) to all parts of the body. After it delivers the oxygenated blood and nutrients to all those parts, the used blood returns to the right atrium through two large blood vessels: the inferior vena cava and the superior vena cava. The inferior vena cava collects blood from the area of the body below the heart, and the superior vena cava receives the blood from the body area above the heart.

Thus, the left ventricle’s job is to pump oxygenated blood with nutrients throughout the entire body and to bring the used blood back to the right atrium. It takes about 10 to 15 seconds for the complete circulation of the cardiovascular system (the term for the heart and blood vessels).

Terms:

Mitral valve - the heart valve located between the left atrium and left ventricle.

Aortic valve - the heart valve located at the outlet of the left ventricle.

Tricuspid valve - the heart valve located between the right atrium and the right ventricle.

Pulmonic (pulmonary) - valve: the heart valve situated at the outlet of the right ventricle.

Oxygenated blood - blood that travels outward from the lungs carrying oxygen to the rest of the body. Vein blood vessel that carries oxygen-poor blood and waste products back to the heart from various organs and tissues.

Aorta -  the large trunk-like artery connected to the outlet of the left ventricle.

Artery - blood vessel that supplies nutrients and oxygen-rich blood from the heart to various organs and tissues. Inferior vena cava the large vein connected to the right atrium that collects blood from the area of the body below the heart.

Superior vena cava - the large vein connected to the right atrium that collects blood from the body area above the heart.

Cardiovascular – system the entire circulatory system, including the heart and the blood vessels.

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