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
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.