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How Oxygen Affects the Heart

23 May 2016
| Under Oxygen Levels | Posted by | 9 Comments
How Oxygen Affects the Heart

For tissues and organs to receive the proper amount of oxygen, your heart must pump blood successfully.  For someone with COPD or another lung disease, low blood oxygen levels are concerning. A healthy heart’s blood flow cycle follows this pattern: body-heart-lungs-heart-body. To understand how oxygen affects the heart, it’s important to understand how the heart works as well as the risks of low blood oxygen levels to the heart.

How the Heart Works

Only the size of a clenched fist, the heart is a strong and hard-working muscle that pumps blood throughout the body. The heart has four chambers: the upper chambers or atria and the lower chambers or ventricles. These chambers are separated by the septum, which is a wall of tissue. Aided by the four heart valves, blood is pumped through the chambers.

The four heart valves include:

  • The tricuspid valve, between the right atrium and the right ventricle.
  • The pulmonary or pulmonic valve, between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.
  • The mitral valve, between the left atrium and left ventricle.
  • The aortic valve, between the left ventricle and the aorta.

Each valve has flaps, known as leaflets or cusps. While the mitral valve has two flaps, the others have three.

How heart blood flow patterns oxygenate the blood

How Oxygen Affects the HeartBecause the normal blood flow pattern flows from body to heart to lungs to heart to body, each step in the process is essential to distributing essential nutrients and oxygen. Here, we’ll break down this blood flow pattern:

From the body to the heart

Dark bluish blood, low in oxygen, returns to the heart through veins and enters the right atrium. The right atrium chamber empties the blood through the tricuspid valve into the right ventricle.

From the heart to the lungs

Next, the right ventricle pumps the blood under low blood pressure through the pulmonary valve into the pulmonary artery. Then, the blood goes to the lungs where it receives fresh oxygen.

From the lungs to the heart

Now that the blood has been oxygenated, its color changes to red, and it returns through the pulmonary veins to the left atrium where it passes through the mitral valve and enters the left ventricle.

From the heart to the body

Now, the left ventricle pumps the oxygen-rich blood through the aortic valve into the aorta, and the aorta takes the blood into the body-wide circulation.

What happens when the heart doesn’t receive enough oxygen?

How Oxygen Affects the HeartIt’s important to understand how oxygen affects the heart. When the heart doesn’t receive enough oxygen, ischemia or angina can occur. Myocardial ischemia occurs when blood flow to the heart is reduced, which prevents it from receiving enough oxygen. However, myocardial ischemia is usually the result of a partial or complete blockage in the heart’s arteries and not from having a chronic lung disease. The most common symptom of myocardial ischemia is chest pressure and pain.

Angina is a term used for chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle, and it’s a symptom of coronary artery disease. The symptoms of angina include chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating dizziness and fatigue. The chest pain or discomfort associated with angina is usually described as pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest.

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, call your doctor immediately, see an acute care facility or call 911.

What can I do to help how oxygen affects the heart and help my heart pump blood better?

Because oxygen is essential to every function of the body, making sure your body receives enough oxygen and can pump that oxygen-rich blood to the right places is also important.  Now that you have a better understanding of how oxygen affects the heart, talk with your doctor about ways to improve your blood oxygen levels, such as heart healthy and oxygen-rich foods, tips on exercises to improve heart muscle tone and function as well as deep breathing exercises for relaxation. Helping your body oxygenate blood by helping it receive enough oxygen will help overall body function.

For many people with chronic lung diseases, other conditions can also occur—sometimes because of low blood oxygen levels. One way to help your body receive enough oxygen is through cellular therapy. Because cellular therapy promotes healing within the lungs, it can improve lung function and overall quality of life for people with chronic lung diseases. At the Lung Institute, we’re happy to help you understand your options, so feel free to contact us at (800) 729-3065.

Click on the parts of the body below to learn more about Oxygen and You:


  1. Pingback: Blood Oxygen Level: What It Means to You | Lung Institute

  2. PB

    2 years ago

    Dear Walt,

    Thanks for your comment. It’s important to continue monitoring your blood oxygen levels like you have been. We recommend discussing your questions regarding your blood oxygen levels with your doctor. Because your doctor knows you and your health situation well, he or she will be able to best guide you, especially when it comes to your personal blood oxygen levels and recovery time. In the meantime, you can read more about oxygen saturation tests for lung disease by clicking here. Your patient coordinator is another excellent resource for you, so feel free to contact your patient coordinator to keep us updated on your progress after treatment or if you have any questions. You can reach us by calling (855) 313-1149.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  3. Walt Fish

    2 years ago

    I routinely monitor my Ox levels and wonder just what to look for. As an example after walking for a mile or so on level ground my Ox level will be around 81 with a pulse on 92′ Recovery time is short but really would like to know more about Ox levels. I had your cellular treatment 7 weeks ago.

  4. PB

    2 years ago

    Dear David,

    We’re happy to answer any questions you have regarding cellular treatment with us. Our patient coordinators have a wealth of knowledge about cellular therapy, treatment options, candidacy and cost, so give us a call at (855) 313-1149 today. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  5. David Pickett

    2 years ago

    I am for sure very interested in the cell program. I am 71 years of age, and on medicare

  6. PB

    2 years ago

    Dear David,

    While cellular treatments are not yet covered by insurance companies or Medicare, we are hopeful that they will be covered in the future. However, this process can take time. In the meantime, feel free to check-in with our blog and read a variety of articles, such as tips for treatment fundraising. We are happy to answer your questions regarding cellular treatment options, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  7. David Seaman

    2 years ago

    The Health care System is a mess. People are dying because they can’t afford cell procedures.
    Obama healthcare policies failed for the American people.

  8. PB

    2 years ago

    Dear Freddy,

    Unfortunately, at this time, insurance companies and Medicare don’t cover treatment. However, we’re hopeful that treatment will be covered by insurance companies and Medicare in the near future. Keep in mind that it will take some time before the insurance companies and Medicare see a financial benefit in their favor and then decide to cover it. In the meantime, you can learn more about cellular treatment options and have your questions answered by one of our patient coordinators. Feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  9. Freddy Waitschies

    2 years ago

    Are your treatments covered by medicare?

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

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