PATIENT EDUCATION
The circulation of the heart
Just like all body organs, the heart needs blood for its metabolic needs. The bllod circulatin within the chambers of the heart cannot infiltrate into its muscle, therefore an extensive vascular tree has been developed in order to suplly it with blood.

The vessels carrying blood away from the heart and to the tissues are called arteries, while the vessels carrying bllod from the tissues back to the heart are called veins. The system which supplies the heart muscle with blood is called the coronary system.

The arteries supplying the herat therefore are called coronary arteries. Upon leaving the heart, blood goes through the aortic valve and into the aorta, the large artery responsible for distributing blood around the body. The firts vessels that come off the aorta, are the coronary arteries and they are found just a few millimeters above the aortic valve.

There are two main coronary arteries, left and right.

The righr coronary artery mainly supplies the right ventricle, the lower part of the left ventricle and the hearts natural pacemaker.

The left coronary artery comess off the aorta and divides into two large branches very early after its origin. The short, common part of the artery is called the mainstem and problems at this site, like obstruction, can cause sudden death because of the large mass of heart muscle that depends on this.

The two branches of the mainstem are called left anterior descending artey and circmflex artery. The former mainly supplies the anterior (front) and part of the lateral (side) part of the left ventricle, while the latter mainly supplies the posterior (back and part the lateral side.

All three main arteries divide into smaller and smaller branches, creating an extensive network. In order to ensure maximum safety, the smallest branches connect with each other. This ensures that if there is obstruction in one artery, collateral circulation can develop and cover (at least to a degree) the metabolic needs of the heart.

There are of course different variants of the coronary circulation and every human has their own unique anatomy, even more unique than fingerprints.

The commonest disease affecting this network is called coronary artery disease. It can cause narrowing or complete obstruction of the arteries leading to clinical syndromes like angina or heart attack.
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