The Heart Chambers and Their Functions
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 systemic circulatory system and the pulmonary circulatory system.
Blood is delivered to the right atrium from the systemic circulatory system by two veins:
- The superior vena cava (L., vena, vein + cava, hollow) transports oxygen-depleted blood from the upper extremities, head, and neck.
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- The inferior vena cava transports oxygen-depleted blood from the thorax, abdomen and lower extremities.
Blood exits the right ventricle through the pulmonary 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.
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 aorta.