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In this chapter,
youll review:
the function of the
heart, arteries, and

tests used
to diagnose


Brush up on key
The heart, arteries, and veins make up the
cardiovascular system. These structures:
transport life-supporting oxygen and nutrients to cells
help remove metabolic waste products
carry hormones from one part of the body
to another.
At the center of the system, the heart propels blood through the body by continuous
rhythmic contractions.
At any time, you can review the major
points of this chapter by consulting the Cheat
sheet on pages 24 to 32.

2 atria & 2 ventricles

The heart is a muscular organ composed of
two atria and two ventricles.

A sac
The heart is surrounded by a pericardial
sac that consists of two layers: the visceral
(inner) layer and the parietal (outer) layer.

3 layers
The heart wall has three layers:
epicardium (visceral pericardium), the
outer layer
myocardium, the thick, muscular middle
endocardium, the inner layer.

4 valves
There are four heart valves. The tricuspid
valve (in the right side of the heart)
and mitral valve (in the left side of the
heart) lie between the atria and ventricles;
because of their location, theyre also called
atrioventricular (AV) valves. These valves prevent backflow of blood into the atria when the

313419NCLEX-RN_Chap03.indd 23

ventricles contract. The pulmonic semilunar

valve lies between the right ventricle and
the pulmonary artery. The aortic semilunar
valve lies between the left ventricle and the
aorta. These valves prevent backflow of blood
into the ventricles during diastole.

Pumping it in
The heart itself is nourished by blood
from two main arteries, the left coronary
artery and the right coronary artery. As it
branches off the aorta, the left coronary artery
branches into the left anterior descending
(LAD) artery and the circumflex artery. The
LAD artery then supplies blood to the anterior
wall of the left ventricle, the anterior ventricular septum, and the apex of the left ventricle,
while the circumflex artery supplies blood to
the left atrium, the lateral and posterior portions of the left ventricle.
The right coronary artery (RCA) fills the
groove between the atria and ventricles and
gives rise to the acute marginal artery, which
becomes the posterior descending artery. The
RCA supplies blood to the sinoatrial (SA) and
AV nodes, the septum, the right atrium, and
the right ventricle. The posterior descending
artery supplies the posterior and inferior wall
of the left ventricle and the posterior portion
of the right ventricle.

Pumping it through (and out)

Blood circulates through the heart following
this pathway:
from the inferior and superior venae cavae
to the right atrium
through the tricuspid valve to the right
through the pulmonic valve to the
pulmonary artery, to the lungs where blood is
oxygenated, through the pulmonary veins to
the left atrium
through the mitral valve to the left ventricle
(Text continues on page 32.)

4/8/2010 7:01:35 PM