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Understanding The 4 Valves of The Heart

Understanding The 4 Valves of The Heart

Ever wondered what makes the heart go “lub-dub?” The heart is the part of the body that pumps our blood in circulation. The lub-dub sound we hear coming from our heart is the closing and opening of the 4 valves of the heart – the aortic, mitral, pulmonary and tricuspid valves.

These valves serve as one-way inlets that help the heart move blood to the upper chambers (atrium) and lower chambers (ventricle) of the heart preventing any form of backflow and disorders resulting from it.

The main function of the valves is to regulate the blood coming in and out of the different veins, arteries and chambers. To understand how blood is being pumped in the heart, we first have to know the different parts of the body responsible for blood flow within it.

The 4 Valves of The Heart

Aortic valve

Also known as the left semilunar valve, the aortic valve has three leaflets and is located between the left ventricle and the aorta. It regulates oxygenated blood from the left ventricle and into the body.

  • Mitral Valve – Also known as the bicuspid valve. It has two leaflets and is located between the left atrium and left ventricle. It regulates oxygenated blood from the left atrium and into the left ventricle.
  • Pulmonary Valve – Also known as the pulmonic valve. It has three leaflets and is located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery. It regulates deoxygenated blood coming from the right ventricle and into the lungs.
  • Tricuspid valve – Also known as the right atrioventricular valve. It has three leaflets and is located between the right ventricle and the right atrium. It regulates deoxygenated blood coming from the right atrium and into the right ventricle.

Take note that the tricuspid valve and mitral valve physically separates the upper and lower chambers. The aortic valve separates the chamber from the aorta and the pulmonary valve separates the chambers from the pulmonary arteries.

4 valves of the heart

The Chambers of the Heart

  • Right Atrium – Receives deoxygenated blood or blood poor in oxygen from the superior and inferior vena cava
  • Right Ventricle – Receives deoxygenated blood from the right atrium and pumps it up to the pulmonary arteries
  • Left Atrium – Receives oxygenated blood from the pulmonary veins
  • Left Ventricle – Receives oxygenated blood from the left atrium to be pumped into the Aorta

How the 4 Valves of the Heart work with the Veins and Arteries

  • Aorta – This is the biggest blood vessel in the body and is responsible for pumping oxygen-enriched blood from the heart and into the body.
  • Pulmonary Artery – Large arteries that supply the lungs with deoxygenated blood to be supplied with oxygen
  • Pulmonary Veins – Receives oxygenated blood from the lungs to be pumped into the heart.
  • Superior and Inferior Vena Cava – These are large veins that supply the right atrium with deoxygenated blood from the body

The 4 Valves of the Heart: Understanding Blood Flow

The heart functions as two pumps working simultaneously. Take note that both atria relax simultaneously. The same goes for the ventricles; they contract simultaneously.

Think of the ventricles and atria as doors; when one shuts, the other one opens. This opening and closing of the 4 valves of the heart is what gives the heart its beat.

For the purpose of this discussion we will talk about the blood flow starting from the right side of the heart, how it pumps blood into the lungs to be supplied with oxygen, and goes back inside the left side heart to be pumped back into the body.

Deoxygenated blood from the body passes through the superior and inferior vena cava. The deoxygenated blood is received by the right atrium which is one of the upper chambers of the heart.

At this point the tricuspid valve is shut and prevents any blood from entering the right ventricle which is the chamber just below the right atrium.

When the tricuspid valve relaxes, it fills the right ventricle with deoxygenated blood then it shuts again to prevent backflow.

Simultaneously, as the tricuspid valve shuts, the pulmonary valve opens. Deoxygenated blood in the left ventricle leaves the heart through the pulmonary valve and gets pumped into the pulmonary arteries so that it enters the lungs.

What happens in the lungs

In the lungs, an exchange of gases occurs taking out carbon dioxide from the blood and replacing it with oxygen. As soon as blood is oxygenated, it starts flowing back into the veins leading to the heart.

The oxygenated blood is then pumped back into the heart through the pulmonary veins. Oxygenated blood from the pulmonary veins is received by the left atrium which is one of the upper chambers of the heart.

At this point the mitral valve is shut to prevent any blood from entering the left ventricle which is the chamber just below the left atrium. When the mitral valve relaxes it fills the left ventricle with oxygenated blood.

The mitral valve shuts again to prevent any backflow. Simultaneously, as the mitral valve shuts, the aortic valve opens. Oxygenated blood leaves the left ventricle through the aortic valve and gets pumped into the aorta where oxygenated blood is distributed to the rest of the body.

Key Takeaways

The heart is a pump that regulates blood flow. It makes sure that deoxygenated blood flows through the right path and into the lungs. At the same time, it also regulates blood coming from the lungs to be distributed into the body.

The heart valves are responsible for maintaining a systematic flow of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood inside the heart by preventing backflow ang making sure that blood is going in one direction.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Hazel Caingcoy Updated Jun 18
Medically reviewed by Mike-Kenneth Go Doratan, M.D.