Anatomy and Function of the Coronary Arteries

Anatomy and Function of the Coronary Arteries



Coronary
arteries send blood to the heart muscle. All tissues in the body need oxygen-rich blood to
function. The heart muscle also needs it. And, oxygen-depleted blood must be carried away.
The coronary arteries wrap around the outside of the heart. They send oxygen-rich blood
into the heart’s muscle tissues.

Two coronary
arteries

The
2 main coronary arteries are:

  • Left main coronary artery. This artery sends
    blood to the left side of the heart muscle. This includes the left ventricle and
    left atrium. It divides into these branches:

    • Left
      anterior descending artery.
      This smaller artery branches off the left
      coronary artery. It sends blood to the front of the left side of the heart.
      It also helps send blood to the middle (septum) of the heart.

    • Circumflex
      artery.
      This artery also branches off the left coronary artery. It
      circles around the heart muscle. This artery sends blood to the outer side
      and back of the heart.

  • Right coronary
    artery.
    This artery sends blood to the right side of the heart. This
    includes the right ventricle, the right atrium, and the SA (sinoatrial) and AV
    (atrioventricular) nodes. These nodes control the heart rhythm. The right coronary
    artery divides into smaller branches. One is the right posterior descending
    artery. The other is the acute marginal artery. It also helps send blood to the
    middle (septum) of the heart.

Problems
with the coronary arteries

Since coronary arteries send blood to the heart muscle, any coronary artery problem can
cause serious health problems. It reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the heart
muscle. This can lead to a heart attack and possibly death. The most common cause of
heart disease is atherosclerosis. This is a buildup of plaque in the inner lining of an
artery. It causes to artery to become narrow or blocked. The causes less blood to get to
the heart tissues.