Monthly Archives: Oct 2003

The Atrium – Storage Chamber and Booster Pump


In an earlier article, I’ve discussed the four heart chambers – the two upper chambers called atria, and the two lower ones called ventricles.

Let’s talk a little more about the atria.

The atria [singular : atrium] are thin walled upper chambers of the heart. There are two atria, one on the right and the other on the left.

The right atrium is located along the right border of the heart. The two great veins of the body – called the superior and inferior vena cava [SVC and IVC] – drain impure blood from the upper and lower halves of the body respectively. These two great veins ultimately empty into the right atrium.

From here, blood flows into the right ventricle across the tricuspid valve and thence into the lungs to be purified. The right atrium thus primarily functions as a storage chamber for “impure” venous blood en route to the lungs. 


What is Open Heart Surgery?

Open Heart Surgery

Over the years, many have asked me this question – “What exactly is OPEN HEART surgery ?”.

“Hey, that’s easy !”, you say. “It’s an operation which is done after opening the heart, right ?”


But it’s not easy!

Let me try and explain.

I’ve told you earlier about how the heart pumps “pure” blood containing nutrients and oxygen to the entire body. This blood flow is needed for life. If the heart stops, and blood flow stops, life is not possible.

That then is the challenge – to open the heart and operate inside it. For this it is necessary to stop the heart!


CHD Support Groups

CHD Support Groups

CHD Info
An informative resource on Congenital Heart Defects with detailed articles on each form of CHD. 

Congenital Heart Disease Information and Resources 
CHIN contains a tremendous amount of information on resources concerning congenital heart disease

Adult Congenital Heart Disease Forum
Adult Congenital Heart Disease Forum is a site devoted to birth defects of the heart in adult patients.

Kids With Heart
A large CHD support organization managed by Michelle Rintamaki and with volunteers across the US.

Adult Congenital Heart Association
A new support organization for adults with CHD

Little Hearts
A New England network of families of children with CHD


What Causes Congenital Heart Defects?

causes congenital heart defects

Despite much research, in the majority of cases, Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) occur without any known cause. This is one reason the incidence has remained fairly constant at 7 to 8 cases per 1000 live births over decades, while other forms of heart disease have been declining in frequency.

We know the causes of some forms of congenital heart defects (CHD).

Environmental Insults

During pregnancy, some events are known to be associated with an increased risk for CHD.


The Ventricles – “Power Pumpers”


In another article you’ll learn about the upper chambers of the heart called the Atria. This one will focus on the lower chambers of the heart – called the Ventricles.

The ventricles are the powerful pumping chambers of the heart. Located below the atria, there are two ventricles, right and left. Together, by their actions, these chambers maintain the circulation of blood to every single organ system of the body. They thus maintain LIFE itself !

The ventricles are hollow structures with a capacity of about 120 ml. in the adult. The left ventricle is ellipsoidal in shape while the right is a little more irregular, seeming to be wrapped around the left ventricle.

The ventricle walls are made up of a special kind of muscle called “Cardiac Muscle“. In many ways, this muscle is very much like the muscles in your arms that help you lift things, or in your legs that help you stand, walk and run …. with one major difference.

Heart muscle does not tire.


Atrial Septum and Ventricular Septum – Dividers Inside Your Heart

Atrial and Ventricular Septum

In earlier articles, you have read about the upper and lower chambers of the heart – the atria and the ventricles.

You have also seen that the circulation is divided into two separate streams, one of which has blood returning from other organs back to the heart for oxygenation, and the other from the heart distributing pure blood back to the body. It is essential that the heart chambers are separated from each other by walls to prevent mixing of these two streams of blood.

This article is about the walls that partition the two sides – the right and left – of these chambers – the inter-atrial septum and inter-ventricular septum.