The heart has four chambers. The two upper chambers (the right atrium and left atrium) receive blood as it returns from the body or the lungs. The lower chambers (the right and left ventricle) pump the blood out to the lungs or body.

Pumping oxygen to the body

Blood coming back to the heart from the body is full of carbon dioxide. The blood enters the right atrium, is squeezed down into the right ventricle and is carried to the lungs. This is where the carbon dioxide in the blood is replaced with oxygen. You exhale (breathe out) the carbon dioxide. 

The oxygenated blood then travels back to the heart, this time entering the left atrium. It is pumped into the left ventricle and then into the aorta. From there oxygen-rich blood is pumped all over the body, and the cycle repeats itself. 

The heart needs an electrical impulse to generate a heartbeat. 

Find out more about your heart at the Heart Foundation.

Common heart conditions

The following are common heart conditions:

  • Angina
  • Arrhythmia
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Coronary heart disease or ischaemic heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Heart inflammation
  • Rheumatic heart disease

Find out more about heart conditions, test and treatments at the Better Health Channel.

Last updated 02 November 2022