How does the heart pump blood?

Our heart works like a pump, pumping low-oxygen blood to the lungs and fresh, oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.

A wall known as the cardiac septum divides the hollow heart muscle into right and left halves. Each half has two chambers, called the atrium and ventricle. The two chambers are separated by a valve. The two halves of the heart act as separate pumps that work together.

Oxygen-poor blood coming from the body flows through the vena cava veins into the right atrium. When the tricuspid valve opens, the blood moves on to the right ventricle. With the next heartbeat, the blood is pumped through the pulmonary valve into the pulmonary artery and then into the lungs.

Oxygen-rich blood coming from the lungs flows through the pulmonary veins into the left atrium. The mitral valve opens and the left ventricle fills with blood. The ventricle then contracts to pump the blood through the aortic valve into the aorta, leading to the rest of the body.

With each beat, the heart pumps blood into the lungs and the rest of the body. The four heart valves ensure that the blood flows in the right direction.

Information on many other topics at:

Über diese Seite

Updated on October 4, 2022

Next planned update: 2025


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

How we keep you informed

Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter or newsfeed. You can find all of our films online on YouTube.