Normal Heart Anatomy

Normal heart anatomy describes the four chambers of the heart and their connections to the veins and arteries. The upper two chambers of the heart are called the right and left atria. The atria are the receiving chambers for blood returning from the body and the lungs. The wall dividing the two atria is called the atrial septum. The lower two chambers are the right and left ventricles. The ventricles are muscular chambers responsible for pumping blood to the body and lungs. The wall dividing the two ventricles is called the ventricular septum. There are four separate valves in the heart: the tricuspid valve, pulmonary valve, mitral valve, and aortic valve. The valves open to allow blood to flow forward and close to prevent any backflow. Finally, there are a number of veins and arteries attaching to the heart. The superior and inferior vena connect to the right atrium, while the pulmonary veins connect to the left atrium. The pulmonary artery connects the right ventricle to the lungs, while the aorta connects the left ventricle to the body.

The heart itself requires blood to work properly just like any other organ in the body. The heart muscle is fed with blood by the coronary arteries. The normal coronary arteries originate from the aorta just above the takeoff from the heart itself. Normally there are 2 coronary arteries, the right and the left. The right coronary artery supplies blood to the right atrium, right ventricle, the bottom portion of the left ventricle, and the back part of the ventricular septum. The left coronary artery divides into 2 major branches: the left anterior descending and the circumflex. The left anterior descending supplies blood to the front and bottom of the left ventricle, as well as the front portion of the ventricular septum. The circumflex supplies blood to the left atrium and the back portion of the left ventricle. Venous blood draining from the heart muscle returns by way of the coronary veins to the coronary sinus which eventually drains into the right atrium.

The term congenital heart defect refers to any abnormal variation in the normal heart anatomy present at birth. A pediatric cardiologist is an expert in diagnosing and treating congenital heart defects, for example ventricular septal defect (VSD), atrial septal defect (ASD), patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), bicuspid aortic valve, aortic valve stenosis, aortic valve insufficiency, coarctation of the aorta, pulmonary valve stenosis, tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of the great arteries, and tricuspid atresia.

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