The heart is at the centre of your circulatory system, which is a network of blood vessels that delivers blood to every part of your body. Blood carries oxygen and other important nutrients that all body organs need to stay healthy and to work properly.
Your heart is a muscle, and its job is to pump blood throughout your circulatory system.
Your heart is divided into two separate pumping systems, the right side and the left side.
Your heart has four separate chambers that pump blood, two on the right side and two on the left.
Blood flows through your heart and lungs
in four steps:
The left and right atria are smaller chambers that pump blood into the ventricles. The left and right ventricles are stronger pumps. The left ventricle is the strongest because it has to pump blood out to the entire body. When your heart functions normally, all four chambers work together in a continuous and coordinated effort to keep oxygen-rich blood circulating throughout your body. Your heart has its own electrical system that coordinates the work of the heart chambers (heart rhythm) and also controls the frequency of beats (heart rate).
The task of your heart is to pump enough blood to deliver a continuous supply of oxygen and other nutrients to the brain and the other vital organs. To do this, your heart needs to:
Other Works Consulted
Hoit BD, Walsh RA (2011). Normal physiology of the cardiovascular system. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's The Heart, 13th ed., vol. 1, pp. 94–117. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD - Cardiology, ElectrophysiologyAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerStephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Current as ofDecember 6, 2017
Current as of: December 6, 2017
Rakesh K. Pai, MD - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
& Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.