Why is the left side of the heart thicker than the right?

Cardiologist with a heart

Explaining how the heart works (Picture: Getty)

If you’re lucky enough to be in good spirits health, you may find that you don’t think about your inner being often.

Rather just live your everyday life while your organs keep everything running automatically and in top shape.

But when you stop to think about it or hear someone’s heart beating, it can be pretty incredible to think about.

The heart muscle in particular is in constant motion – pumping thousands upon thousands of times a day and literally keeping us alive.

If you’ve actually stopped to think about it, you might be wondering why you read or heard that the left side of the heart is slightly larger or thicker than the right.

Here’s why – and what each site does.

Why is the left side of the heart usually thicker than the right?

The reason the left side of the heart is “thicker” is pretty simple – and has to do with how much work each side of the heart has to do.

And it’s all to do with the four different chambers in your heart — and where each side of the heart pumps blood.

There are two atria (left and right) in the upper part of your heart. You then have two ventricles (left and right) in the lower part.

Both atria allow blood to enter through the ventricles, and the ventricles take in the blood and then deliver it elsewhere or pump it through the heart’s aorta into the muscles.

Four valves also help make this possible at the right times.

So the system works like this: The right atrium receives blood that has already flowed around your body with little oxygen in it from the vena cava veins.

Anterior and posterior views of the heart

Front and back views of the heart on a vintage poster (Image: Found Image Holdings/Corbis via Getty Images)

It then pumps this blood to your lungs via the pulmonary artery and through the right ventricle of the heart. This allows the blood to be enriched with oxygen again.

After passing through the lungs, it enters the left atrium through the pulmonary vein.

From there it passes through the mitral valve into your left ventricle – which then has to pump blood to the aortic valve and aorta to supply that blood to the rest of your body.

Amazingly, the heart repeats this life-giving process 100,000 times a day British Heart Foundation.

And given the amount of work your left ventricle does to propel blood throughout your body (not just your lungs), it makes sense that its wall would be slightly thicker and larger.

There you have it!

MORE : Substance developed by scientists that ‘hears’ your heartbeat.

MORE : Why the “train to failure” technique isn’t the best way to build muscle

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Sarah Y. Kim

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