How the Heart Works

Skip Navigation

Overview

Your heart is divided into two separate pumping systems, the right side and the left side.

  • The right side of your heart receives oxygen-poor blood from your veins and pumps it to your lungs, where it picks up oxygen and gets rid of carbon dioxide.
  • The left side of your heart receives oxygen-rich blood from your lungs and pumps it through your arteries to the rest of your body.

Your heart has four separate chambers that pump blood, two on the right side and two on the left.

How the heart's pumping system works

Your heart is divided into two separate pumping systems, the right side and the left side. Blood is pumped through your heart and lungs in four steps:

  1. The right atrium receives oxygen-poor blood from the body and pumps it to the right ventricle through the tricuspid valve.
  2. The right ventricle pumps the oxygen-poor blood to the lungs through the pulmonary valve.
  3. The left atrium receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it to the left ventricle through the mitral valve.
  4. The left ventricle pumps the oxygen-rich blood through the aortic valve out to the rest of the body.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: September 7, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Stephen Fort MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology




The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.