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There are a couple of primary differences between the atrium and ventricles. The left and right atria, the plural form of atrium, are the upper chambers of the heart, while the left and right ventricles are at the bottom of the heart. The other basic difference is that the atria receive the deoxygenated blood from the veins and send it to the ventricles. The ventricles then contract and pump the blood back out of the heart into the aorta and subsequent arteries.
The four chambers of the heart are made up of atria and ventricles. The atria are located at the top of the heart organ and are small cavities. There is one atrium on each side of the heart. The corresponding lower chambers of the heart are the ventricles. The ventricles tend to be larger cavities and are also located on the right and left side of the heart.
The atria have relatively thin walls, but are sufficiently thick to serve their function, which is containing and carrying blood. The right atrium receives old blood, whose oxygen has been distributed to the tissues of the body in exchange for CO2 and other tissue waste materials. The blood from the upper body is supplied from the superior vena cave, while the inferior vena cave supplies the right atrium with blood from the lower body. The left atrium receives filtered, purified blood from the lungs through the pulmonary veins.
The ability to pump blood is another difference between the atrium and ventricles. The ventricles have thick walls, which help them contract, pumping blood in and out of the heart. The right ventricle receives the deoxygenated blood from the right atrium and pumps it into the lungs for purification. The left ventricle receives the clean blood from the left atrium and pumps it into the aorta, which is the largest artery in the body. The aorta then carries the blood to the rest of the body.
Another difference between the atrium and ventricles is the valves they are attached to. Heart valves serve as a sort of seal, which open when blood is pumped from one area to the other and closes to prevent the blood from leaking backward. The tricuspid valve separates the right atrium from the right ventricle, which seals when the right ventricle receives the blood to prevent splash back into the right atrium. The pulmonary valve opens to allow the right ventricle to pump blood into the pulmonary artery. The mitral or bicuspid valve separates the left atrium from the left ventricle. Lastly, the aortic valve serves as a barrier between the left ventricle and the aorta.
I was born with a heart murmur, which means one of my heart valves doesn’t close properly. I believe it’s in the right atrium; however, I keep wondering if this is a condition that will continue to get progressively worse over time. Also, are there ways to work my heart that could possibly lessen the symptoms I seem to have because of this condition—fatigue, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath? I’m only 28, but sometimes the condition leaves me so tired that I can’t get through the day. I exercise regularly (5 days a week), but is there anything else I can do or even avoid to make my heart stronger or to lessen these symptoms?