Home > Health Library > How the Heart Works
The heart is at the center 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
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
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.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
St. Vincent's HealthCare 1 Shircliff Way, Jacksonville, FL 32204 904-308-7300
©2014 St. Vincent's HealthCare - All rights reserved.