What is the left ventricle?
The heart contains four hollow chambers, two upper chambers and two lowers chambers. The right ventricle and left ventricle are the lower chambers.
In normal human hearts, oxygenated blood is continuously passed down from the left atrium into the left ventricle by way of the mitral valve. It then passes through the aortic valve and aortic arch before it is carried to the organs of the body.
What does the left ventricle look like?
The left ventricle takes the shape of a concaved, oval-like cone. It is shorter than the right ventricle, forming part of the sternocostal and diaphragmatic heart surfaces, as well as the heart’s apex.
The right ventricle ‘hugs’ the left ventricle and is more visible, particularly when viewed from the front. However, the left ventricle is thicker, more developed, and has a higher blood pumping capacity.
This chamber consists of an overlapping inlet part that contains the mitral valve and it structures (the left atrial and ventricular walls, the cusps, the annulus, the chordae tendineae, and the papillary muscles), a lower apical with muscular trabeculations, and an outlet that leads to the aortic valve.
What is the left ventricle’s function? How does it work?
The primary function of the left ventricle is to receive blood from the left atrium and pump it into the aorta, transporting the oxygen-rich blood to the organs of the body.
The ventricle, which is in essence a muscle, has to do a few things for a person’s heart to function.
To begin with, the functional heart chamber must fill up quickly with oxygen-rich blood that flows from the pulmonary veins after every contraction.
Next, it has to contract with enough speed and force to push the oxygenated blood into the aorta as it withstands greater aortic pressure and overcomes the pressure that stretches it and other main arteries, facilitating sudden spikes in blood volume (ejection and contraction during systole).
The left ventricle must also raise and lower its pumping capability under control of the nervous system.
What happens when the left ventricle doesn’t function properly?
Since the left ventricle is the primary pumping chamber of the heart, serious problems can arise inside the body if it does not function as it is supposed to.
For example, if the ventricle enlarges and stiffens over time due to increased blood pressure (as is typical with left ventricular hypertrophy), fluid may accumulate in the lungs. Pulmonary edema can lead to breathing difficulties, insufficient blood oxygenation, and sudden cardiac arrest.
Left ventricular hypertrophy can occur in people with hypertension, coronary heart disease, and congestive heart failure, heart valve disease, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, and other conditions.