ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Easy Anatomy: Understanding How the Human Heart Works

Updated on March 15, 2017
Flickr photo by Jay Reimer
Flickr photo by Jay Reimer | Source

How the Human Heart Works

The human heart is one of the most amazing and essential organs in the human anatomy. Many people know that it pumps blood and is located on the left side of the chest, but not much more. The heart is actually very complex (I will go into more detail in later hubs), but I hope to keep this hub as a relatively simple and quick overview of how the heart works, what it does and some of the main sections of the heart.

Buy from Amazon!

The Basics

The human heart is about the same size as a fist and it is located on the left side of the chest. This is pretty straight forward, but there is one common misconception: Many people tend to think that the human heart is all the way to the left side of the chest, but it is more accurate to say that it is in the middle of your chest favoring the left side (Next time you stand for the “National Anthem” put your right hand a bit closer to your sternum, if you wish to rest it over your heart).

The heart is made up of four separate chambers. Each chamber is separated by a one-way valve to avoid any backflow of blood. The top two chambers are called atria (singular form: atrium) and the bottom two chambers are called ventricles. The purpose of the heart is to pump oxygen poor blood to the lungs where the blood cells receive oxygen and to pump this oxygen rich blood into the rest of the body.

The Path of Blood Flow

Before we can go much further in learning about the heart, we should have an understanding of the path the blood goes through to get from one side of the heart to the other.

1. The first step is that oxygen poor blood flows into the right atrium through the inferior and superior vena cava’s (the superior vena cava dumps blood into the heart from the head, chest and arms and the inferior vena cava dumps blood from the lower body).

2. The blood then flows through the bicuspid atrioventricular valve (the first of the one-way valves mentioned earlier) and into the right ventricle.

3. Next, blood is pushed through the semilunar valve (second one-way valve) into the pulmonary trunk. The pulmonary trunk leads to the lungs.

4. Once the blood has become oxygen rich, it flows through the pulmonary veins and into the left atrium.

5. After the left atrium, the blood is pushed through the tricuspid atrioventricular valve (the third one-way valve) and into the left ventricle.

6. The blood is now oxygen rich and only one step away from entering the rest of our body. The blood is finally pushed from the left ventricle into the aorta.

Important Facts

· The 4 chambers of the heart are so important because they ensure that oxygen poor blood does not mix at all with oxygen rich blood.

· The heart actually pumps twice each time we count one heart beat (you may recall hearing an over dramatized “lub dub” in a suspenseful movie). The “lub” sound is made by the atrioventricular valves closing and the “dub” sound is made by the semilunar valves closing.

· The heart is extremely efficient: A person who has a heart rate of 70 beats per minute pumps an average of 5 ¼ liters of blood in just one minute. That is nearly all of the body’s blood being pumped through the heart every minute!

Inquiry into Life
Inquiry into Life
This book was my primary source of information for this article. It is chalk full of easy to understand information!

I hope to cover more in-depth aspects of the heart soon! I will look into how each heart beat is triggered and how our heart rate is determined as well as how our heart itself receives oxygen rich blood from itself.

Thanks for reading!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Amy kennedy 

      2 years ago

      Thank you so much I understand this so much better!!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Thank you this is most helpful for my science assignment

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks, I was so confused. You explained in layman's terms!

    • profile image

      Damien Luxford 

      8 years ago

      Amazing! Marvellous to think how this one little hollow muscle keeps me alive, healthy and active with its pumping. I recently listened to my own heart for the first time through a friend's stethoscope. The clear thumping beat was truly fascinating, especially after a minutes experimental running around the flat.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      thank you for this but you have swapped the tricuspid valve for bicuspid valve

    • apStumbo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thank you Dr. Haddox!

    • Dr. Haddox profile image

      Dr Freddie Haddox 

      9 years ago from a Franklin, Tennessee native, who travels globally.

      Great work. I am proud of you. Dr. Haddox

    • apStumbo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thank you chspublish! You are the first one top stop by. Much appreciated!

    • chspublish profile image


      9 years ago from Ireland

      Good clear explanations and descriptions of the functions of the heart. Educational. Thanks.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)