Skip navigation

Blood flow

This video plays in QuickTime format. To view the video, download and install the Apple QuickTime player at: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/.

As the heart pumps, the arteries carry oxygen-rich blood (shown in red) away from the heart and toward the body’s tissues and vital organs. These include the brain, liver, kidneys, stomach, and muscles, including the heart muscle itself. At the same time, the veins carry oxygen-poor blood (shown in blue) from the tissues back toward the heart. From there, it passes to the lungs to receive more oxygen. This cycle repeats itself when oxygen-rich blood returns to the heart from the lungs, which pumps it throughout the body.

Update Date: 9/4/2012

Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

Related MedlinePlus Pages

A.D.A.M Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2014, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.

A.D.A.M Logo