Last update:

Major Blood Vessels of the Heart

Introduction to the Major Blood Vessels of the Heart:

The major (or great) blood vessels of the heart are the larger arteres and veins that attach to the atria and ventricles and transport blood to and from the image descriptionsystemic circulatory system and the image descriptionpulmonary circulatory system.

Systemic circuit animation slide 1
Systemic circuit animation slide 2
Systemic circuit animation slide 3
Systemic circuit animation slide 4
Systemic circuit animation slide 5
Systemic circuit animation slide 6
Systemic circuit animation slide 7
Systemic circuit animation slide 8
Systemic circuit animation slide 9
The systemic circulatory system.
pulmonary circuit animation slide 1
pulmonary circuit animation slide 2
pulmonary circuit animation slide 3
pulmonary circuit animation slide 4
pulmonary circuit animation slide 5
pulmonary circuit animation slide 6
pulmonary circuit animation slide 7
pulmonary circuit animation slide 8
pulmonary circuit animation slide 9
The pulmonary circulatory system.

Blood is delivered to the right atrium from the systemic circulatory system by two veins:

  • The image descriptionsuperior vena cava (L., vena, vein + cava, hollow) transports oxygen-depleted blood from the upper extremities, head, and neck.
coronal view of the heart
Coronal view of the heart with the superior vena cava labelled
The superior vena cava.
1
2
  • The image descriptioninferior vena cava transports oxygen-depleted blood from the thorax, abdomen and lower extremities.
coronal view of the heart
Coronal view of the heart with the inferior vena cava labelled
The inferior vena cava.
1
2

Blood exits the right ventricle through the image descriptionpulmonary trunk artery. Approximately two inches superior to the base of the heart, this vessel branches into the left and right pulmonary arteries, which transport blood into the lungs.

coronal view of the heart
Coronal view of the heart with the pulmonary trunk artery labelled
The pulmonary trunk artery.
1
2

The image descriptionleft pulmonary veins and image descriptionright pulmonary veins return oxygenated blood from the lungs to the left atrium.

coronal view of the heart
Coronal view of the heart with the left pulmonary veins labelled
Coronal view of the heart with the right pulmonary vein labelled
The right and left pulmonary veins.
1
2
3

Blood passes from the left atrium into the left ventricle. From here, it is pumped into the systemic circulatory system through a larger, elastic artery called the image descriptionaorta.

coronal view of the heart
Coronal view of the heart with the aorta labelled
The aorta.
1
2

image descriptionAnterior and image descriptionposterior views of the heart may help provide a better perspective about the appearance and relative location of these major blood vessels.

Unlabelled image of the anterior veiw of the major blood vessels of the heart
Labelled image of the anterior view of the major blood vessels of the heart
Labelled image of the posterior view of the major blood vessels of the heart
Anterior and posterior views of the major blood vessels of the heart.
1
2
3

Test yourself:

Anterior view: [image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers]

Test yourself image for the anterior view of the major blood vessels of the heart with answers shown; right pulmonary artery, superior vena cava, right pulmonary artery, inferior vena cav, aorta, left pulmonary artery, left pulmonary vein, pulmonary trunk artery, descending aorta
Review the anterior view of the major blood vessels of the heart and test yourself.
1
2

Posterior view: [image descriptionShow/image descriptionHide answers]

Test yourself image for the posterior view of the major blood vessels of the heart with answers hidden
Test yourself image for the posterior view of the major blood vessels of the heart with answers shown; aorta, left pulmonary artery, left pulmonary veins, inferior vena cava, right pulmonary artery, superior vena cava, right pulmonary veins.
Review the posterior view of the major blood vessels of the heart and test yourself.
1
2