Roles of Your Four Heart Valves

Updated:Sep 9,2016
What's the Problem?
Valves of the Heart - Aortic Valve, Pulmonary Valve, Tricuspid Valve, Mitral Valve

To better understand your valve condition and to help prepare you to understand everything your healthcare provider will discuss, it helps to know the role each heart valve plays in providing healthy blood circulation. Every part of the circulatory system must work together to deliver blood, oxygen and nutrients to all tissue.

What are the four heart valves? What role does each play in healthy circulation?

Here are the four valves in order of circulation:



  • Closes off the upper right chamber (or atrium) that holds blood coming in from the body.
  • Opens to allow blood to flow from the top right chamber to the lower right chamber (or from right atrium to right ventricle).
  • Prevents the back flow of blood from the ventricle to the atrium when blood is pumped out of the ventricle.

Related valve problems include: Tricuspid atresia, Tricuspid regurgitation, Tricuspid stenosis


(or Pulmonic Valve)

Heart valve anatomy animation
Watch an animation of heart valve anatomy
  • Closes off the lower right chamber (or right ventricle).
  • Opens to allow blood to be pumped from the heart to the lungs (through the pulmonary artery) where it will receive oxygen.

Related valve problems include: Pulmonary valve stenosis, Pulmonary valve regurgitation



  • Closes off the upper left chamber (or left atrium) collecting the oxygen-rich blood coming in from the lungs.
  • Opens to allow blood to pass from the upper left side to the lower left side (or from the left atrium to the left ventricle).

Related valve problems include: Mitral valve prolapse, Mitral valve regurgitation, Mitral valve stenosis



  • Closes off the lower left chamber that holds the oxygen-rich blood before it is pumped out to the body.
  • Opens to allow blood to leave the heart (from the left ventricle to the aorta and on to the body).

Related valve problems include: Aortic regurgitation (also called aortic insufficiency), Aortic stenosis

Essentials for properly working valves

  • The valve is properly formed and flexible.
  • The valve should open all the way so that the right amount of blood can pass through
  • The valve closes tightly so that no blood leaks back into the chamber.
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This content was last reviewed May 2016.

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