Valves & Vessels

Heart Valves - The heart has four valves: tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral and aortic. The valves have flaps that open and close with every heartbeat. The flaps make sure blood flows in the proper direction in and out of the heart's four chambers and to the rest of the body. The tricuspid valve moves blood from the right atrium down to the right ventricle. The pulmonary valve separates the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery, and allows deoxygenated blood to the lungs. The mitral valve lets blood move from the left atrium down to the left ventricle. The aortic valve opens to blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta. Valvular disease basically comes down to three basic problems: stenosis, regurgitation or atresia. Stenosis is a condition in which the valve leaflets become stiff and do not open fully, meaning not enough blood flows through valve. Regurgitation presents the opposite problem—the valves do not close tightly, and allow blood to flow backwards. The mitral valve is especially sensitive to regurgitation. And atresia is a congenital heart defect in which a...more

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