Dr David Lipkin
Cardiac Heart Specialist
The Heart and How it WorksBlood from the body enters the right side of the heart through the right atrium. Blood flows into the left ventricle which pumps the blood through the pulmonary arteries to the lungs. There it picks up fresh oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. The left atrium of the heart receives the oxygen enriched blood from the lungs. Blood flows into the thick walled left ventricle and this chamber pumps the blood through the aorta around the body.
The heart can be considered a pump and like any pump or engine it needs its own fuel supply. The heart pumps blood back itself through 'fuel pipes' that run over the surface of the heart. These pipes are called the coronary arteries. If a coronary artery blocks and the fuel supply to the engine is restricted then the heart 'chokes'. This usually causes chest pain or angina. If the interruption in blood supply is temporary then the heart recovers but if the obstruction is prolonged then a small part of the heart muscle dies and a heart attacks occurs.
The Function of the HeartThe heart is in fact two separate pumps which work together. The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs and the left side of the heart pumps blood to the circulation around our bodies.
The side of the heart has a thin walled 'collecting chamber' called the atrium, which helps to fill the thick walled main pump, the ventricle. The heart wall is made of a special sort of muscle called the myocardium. The left and right sides of the heart are divided by a muscular wall called the septum.