What role does the heart play in circulating blood in the body?

Discovery Health

Blood flows to and from the heart through a series of actions. Here is a simple way of looking at what happens:

  • When blood returns to the heart from throughout the body, it flows into the right atrium. That blood is now low on oxygen because it has been supplying oxygen throughout your body.
  • The right atrium of your heart fills with this blood, which then flows into your heart's right ventricle. Next, the blood goes from your right ventricle to the lungs for an oxygen refill.
  • To maximize the amount of blood in the right ventricle, the right atrium contracts - pushing the blood down into the ventricle.
  • When the right ventricle is full, it contracts and blood is forced into the lungs.
  • Once the blood has picked up oxygen, it moves from the lungs to the left atrium and then down into the left ventricle. The atrium then contracts and then the ventricle contracts, like it did on the right side.
  • The right and left atriums contract at the same time. The right atrium pushes the oxygen-low blood into the right ventricle. The left atrium pushes the oxygenated blood from the previous cycle into the left ventricle.
  • The left ventricle contracts, sending the blood throughout the body.
  • Eventually, the process begins all over again.

Continue Learning about Heart and Circulatory System

Heart and Circulatory System

Heart and Circulatory System

Your circulatory system is made up of your heart and three main types of blood vessels -- arteries, veins and capillaries. Your heart is at the center of the system, acting as a pump to distribute nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood t...

hrough your body; it then takes away carbon dioxide and other waste your body doesn't need. Signs of poor circulation include cold hands and feet, numbness, dizziness, migraines, varicose veins and pain in your feet or legs. Untreated, poor circulation can lead to stroke, high blood pressure, kidney damage and other diseases. Learn more about your heart and circulatory system with expert advice from Sharecare.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.