Introduction to Physiology of the Human Heart

Before we begin the signal analysis, we briefly review the physiology of the human heart and echocardiography as well. The heart is a four-chamber blood pump, consisting of two ventricles (lower chambers) and two atria (upper chambers). The right ventricle sends blood to the lungs through the pulmonary artery (Fig. 1, [2]). The left ventricle sends blood to the rest of the body though the aorta. The left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the lungs to be sent to the body, whereas the right atrium receives blood from the veins to be sent to the lungs through the right ventricle. A number of cardiostructures are visible with echocardiography: the myocardium, the main muscle of the heart; the endocardium, a membrane lining the chambers; the septum, a muscular wall that divides the heart in half; and the epicardium, a membrane covering the heart.


Figure 1. Reproduced with permission.
American Heart Association World Wide Web site, Heart and Stroke Guide section, 1996.
Copyright American Heart Association.