Overview of the Four Heart Valves (2024)

There are four heart valves in a healthy human heart. The valves help to maintain proper blood flow through the heart, keeping blood moving efficiently and smoothly, and in the right direction. In addition to the valves, there are four heart chambers — the upper chambers are called the left and right atria, the lower chambers are the left and right ventricle.

Overview of the Four Heart Valves (1)

A healthy heart valve will stop blood from flowing out of a heart chamber until it is time for the heart to pump the blood to its next destination. The valves open and close with precision timing, allowing the heart to pump blood effectively.

Valves may become diseased, resulting either in leakage of blood backwards (known as insufficiency or regurgitation), or by becoming narrowed (stenotic), preventing adequate forward flow of blood. Either of these conditions can seriously damage the heart, and surgery may be required to address these problems.

The Tricuspid Heart Valve

The tricuspid valve is the first valve that blood flows through in the heart. It is one of two atrioventricular valves, meaning that it is located between the atrium and the ventricle, in this case, on the right side of the heart. It is made of three flaps, or leaflets, that work together to stop and start the flow of blood.

The leaflets are attached to tiny muscles, called the papillary muscles, that strengthen the movement of the leaflets. The tricuspid valve opens when the atrium contracts, allowing blood to flow into the ventricle.

The tricuspid valve, like the mitral valve, is one of the common sites of valve prolapse and regurgitation, conditions which may make medical intervention a necessity.

The Pulmonic Heart Valve

The pulmonic valve is the second valve of the heart. Like the aortic valve, it is also referred to as a semilunar valve, because of its shape. It lies between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery, which takes blood to the lungs. When the right ventricle contracts, the pulmonic valve opens, allowing blood to flow to the lungs.

The Mitral Heart Valve

The mitral valve, is the third valve of the heart. Like the tricuspid valve, it is an atrioventricular valve, meaning it rests between the left atrium and the left ventricle. Oxygenated blood passes through the mitral valve when the atrium contracts, allowing blood to flow from the upper chamber into the lower ventricle.

The mitral valve is composed of two leaflets, or flaps, that prevent blood from flowing into the ventricle too soon. When the atrium contracts, the mitral valve opens, allowing blood to move into the ventricle.

The mitral valve, like the tricuspid valve, is a common site of valve prolapse and regurgitation, conditions that may require medical intervention.

The Aortic Heart Valve

The aortic valve is the fourth and final heart valve, lying between the left ventricle and the aorta. The valve is composed of three leaflets, working together to stop blood from entering the aorta prematurely. The aortic valve opens when the ventricle contracts, allowing blood to move from the heart and start the journey to the rest of the body.

Heart Valve Problems

While some valves are more likely than others to develop specific valvular diseases, all of the valves can develop problems. In some cases, a valve problem will have no symptoms and will only be detected because of a heart murmur. In other cases, patients may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, fluid retention, and fainting.

If the problem is potentially serious, testing may be recommended to determine if valve repair surgery or valve replacement surgery should be considered.

6 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Hinton RB, Yutzey KE. Heart valve structure and function in development and disease. Annu Rev Physiol. 2011;73:29–46. doi:10.1146/annurev-physiol-012110-142145

  2. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). Heart valve diseases: Treatments for heart valve disease. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. 2019.

  3. de Vlaming A, Sauls K, Hajdu Z, et al. Atrioventricular valve development: new perspectives on an old theme. Differentiation. 2012;84(1):103–116. doi:10.1016/j.diff.2012.04.001

  4. Dal-Bianco JP, Levine RA. Anatomy of the mitral valve apparatus: role of 2D and 3D echocardiography. Cardiol Clin. 2013;31(2):151–164. doi:10.1016/j.ccl.2013.03.001

  5. Fitzgerald KP, Lim MJ. The pulmonary valve. Cardiol Clin. 2011;29(2):223-7. doi:10.1016/j.ccl.2011.01.006

  6. Ho SY. Anatomy of the mitral valve. Heart. 2002;88 Suppl 4(Suppl 4):iv5–iv10. doi:10.1136/heart.88.suppl_4.iv5

Additional Reading

  • Heart Valves. The American Heart Association.

By Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FN
Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FNP-C, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. She has experience in primary care and hospital medicine.

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Overview of the Four Heart Valves (2024)


What are the 4 valves of the heart description? ›

tricuspid valve: located between the right atrium and the right ventricle. pulmonary valve: located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery. mitral valve: located between the left atrium and the left ventricle. aortic valve: located between the left ventricle and the aorta.

What are the 4 valves in the correct order that the blood will flow through from the vena cava to the aorta? ›

Heart valves
  • The tricuspid valve separates the right atrium and right ventricle.
  • The mitral valve separates the left atrium and left ventricle.
  • The pulmonary valve separates the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.
  • The aortic valve separates the left ventricle and aorta.
Mar 24, 2022

What is the purpose of the four valves in the heart quizlet? ›

The heart's valves serve to guarantee blood flow in a single direction and to avoid backflow. The tricuspid valve, the pulmonary valve, the mitral valve, and the aortic valve are the four valves that make up the heart.

What are the 4 valves in the heart and they prevent the back flow of blood? ›

As your heart pumps blood, four valves open and close to make sure blood flows in the correct direction. As they open and close, they make two sounds that create the sound of a heartbeat. The four valves are the aortic valve, mitral valve, pulmonary valve and tricuspid valve.

What are the four main functions of the heart? ›

The four main functions of the heart are:
  • Pumping oxygenated blood to other body parts.
  • Pumping hormones and other vital substances to different parts of the body.
  • Receiving deoxygenated blood and carrying metabolic waste products from the body and pumping it to the lungs for oxygenation.
  • Maintaining blood pressure.

How does the structure of the four heart valves differ? ›

The mitral and tricuspid atrioventricular (AV) valves separate the atria from the ventricles, while the aortic and pulmonary semilunar (SL) valves separate the ventricles from the great arteries. AV valves have leaflets and SL valves have cusps.

What is the stage that all of the 4 cardiac valves are closed? ›

Phase II is known as the period of isovolumic contraction and begins at point C. This phase is characterized by a large increase in pressure without a change in volume. The reason that the volume does not change during phase II is that all of the valves are closed, so blood can neither enter nor leave the ventricle.

What is the order of blood flow through the heart valves? ›

Oxygenated blood returns to the heart through the pulmonary vein into the left atrium. The blood then moves through the mitral valve into the left ventricle. The left ventricle then pumps the blood through the aortic valve into the aorta.

What is the general order of blood flow between the 4 major heart chambers? ›

Blood enters the right atrium and passes through the right ventricle. The right ventricle pumps the blood to the lungs where it becomes oxygenated. The oxygenated blood is brought back to the heart by the pulmonary veins which enter the left atrium. From the left atrium blood flows into the left ventricle.

Which answer best describes the purpose of the heart valves? ›

Heart valves (HVs) are cardiac structures whose physiological function is to ensure directed blood flow through the heart over the cardiac cycle.

What are the four heart valves in humans and tell where they re located identify each as atrioventricular or semilunar? ›

The mitral and the tricuspid valves, also known as the atrioventricular valves, are located between the top chambers of the heart, the atria, and the lower chambers of the heart, the ventricles. The aortic and pulmonary valves, are located between the ventricles and the arteries that emerge from the heart.

What is the purpose of the valves in the heart to keep the blood flowing in one direction? ›

Blood passes through a valve before leaving each chamber of the heart. The valves prevent the backward flow of blood. Valves are actually flaps (leaflets) that act as one-way inlets for blood coming into a ventricle and one-way outlets for blood leaving a ventricle.

What is the function of the 4 heart valves? ›

Two of the valves, the mitral and the tricuspid valves, move blood from the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) to the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles). The other two valves, the aortic and pulmonary valves, move blood to the lungs and the rest of the body through the ventricles.

Which heart valve is most important? ›

The largest of the heart's four valves is the aortic valve. This important valve controls how blood is pumped from the left ventricle into the heart's main artery: the aorta.

What is the anatomy of the heart valves? ›

There are four valves of the heart, which are divided into two categories: Atrioventricular valves: The tricuspid valve and mitral (bicuspid) valve. They are located between the atria and corresponding ventricle. Semilunar valves: The pulmonary valve and aortic valve.

What is the function of the atrioventricular valves? ›

The atrioventricular (AV) valves open during diastole to allow the filling of the ventricles and close during systole (ventricular contraction), directing blood through the semilunar valves to the body; these valves, in turn, close during diastole to prevent the flow of blood back into the ventricle.

What is the difference between the bicuspid and tricuspid valves? ›

The tricuspid valve allows blood flow between the right atrium and the right ventricle. The bicuspid valve allows blood flow between the left atrium and the left ventricle. Common heart valve disorders include stenosis and regurgitation, which doctors may treat with medication or surgery.


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