Heart Valve Disease
Heart valve disease is when 1 or more heart valves don’t work right. The valves normally keep blood flow moving forward in one direction. And they prevent the backward flow of blood as it leaves each chamber of the heart. The heart has 4 chambers: 2 upper chambers (atria) and 2 lower chambers (ventricles). The heart also has 4 valves. They are:
- Tricuspid valve. Located between the right atrium and the right ventricle.
- Pulmonary valve. Located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.
- Mitral valve. Located between the left atrium and the left ventricle.
- Aortic valve. Located between the left ventricle and the aorta.
As the heart muscle contracts and relaxes, the valves open and close, letting blood flow into the ventricles and out to the body at alternate times. The following is a step-by-step explanation of blood flow through the heart:
The left and right atrium contract once they are filled with blood. This pushes open the mitral and tricuspid valves. Blood is then pumped into the ventricles.
The left and right ventricles contract. This closes the mitral and tricuspid valves, preventing backward blood flow. At the same time, the aortic and pulmonic valves open to let blood be pumped out of the heart.
The left and right ventricles relax. The aortic and pulmonic valves close, preventing backward blood flow into the heart. The mitral and tricuspid valves then open to allow forward blood flow within the heart to fill the ventricles again.
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