The human heartThe healthy heart

The human heart

Possible heart defects


The human heart and possible structural defects

The human heart

The heart is the central organ of a human being, because it regulates the blood supply of our body. It is a muscle about the size of a fist, which consists of two halves, separated from one another by the cardiac septum. The two halves each have two cavities: the atrium and the ventricle. The atria collect the blood coming from the veins and fill it into the lower cardiac chambers. The ventricles pump the blood to the body via the arteries.

The oxygen-poor blood comes into the right half of the heart via the superior and inferior vena cava and from there is pumped to the lung via the pulmonary artery. There the blood is enriched with oxygen and returns to the heart via the pulmonary vein. The oxygen-rich blood is then moved from the left half of the heart and distributed via the aorta to the body, where it supplies the organs with oxygen. 

The chambers of the heart are closed by cardiac valves. The tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic valves control the blood flow in the heart – they direct the blood in the right direction. Each heart valve consists of flexible flaps of tissue, which, just like a valve, can be pressed in one direction only. On the one hand, they have to open wide enough so that enough blood is pumped into the circulatory system. On the other hand, they must also be tight enough to keep blood from flowing in the wrong direction. 

Structural heart defects

There are numerous functional disorders or defects that can occur in the heart. Some are congenital; others develop due to illness or age. On the following pages, we present the most common structural heart defects, their causes and possible methods of treatment:

Aortic coarctation

PFO (patent foramen ovale)

ASD (atrial septal defect)

VSD (ventricular septal defect)

PDA (patent ductus arteriosus)

Valvular heart defects