Do you know how our hearts work?


The structure of our heart can be compared to two “one-bedroom apartments” side by side, with four one-way “doors” connecting two “courtyards”: the pulmonary circulation and the systemic circulation. Blood from the body first enters the right atrium, moves through a “door”—the tricuspid valve—into the right ventricle, and then, propelled by the heart’s strong contractions, passes through the pulmonary valve into a small “garden”—the lungs. Here, the blood releases carbon dioxide and other metabolic wastes, absorbs oxygen, and becomes bright red. This oxygen-rich blood then flows into the left atrium, passes through the mitral valve into the left ventricle, and is finally pumped out through the aortic valve to nourish the entire body.

The period from the second to the eighth week of gestation is crucial for embryonic cardiac development, transforming from a simple heart tube into a complex structure similar to an adult heart. This critical window is highly sensitive, and exposure to adverse conditions may permanently alter the heart’s structure, physiology, and metabolism, with significant long-term health implications, as suggested by the DOHaD (Developmental Origins of Health and Disease) hypothesis.

Do you remember our nurses conducted Doppler Ultrasound examinations on you during your third trimester (28-32 weeks of gestation)? From these exams, we gathered valuable data on fetal cardiac morphology and function. This information is instrumental in exploring whether and how various environmental and lifestyle factors might influence fetal cardiac development. By understanding these influences, we aim to shed light on the potential long-term impacts on cardiovascular health, guiding better prenatal care and interventions to ensure healthier outcomes for future generations. We will have some results soon and will share them with you in due time. ¡Thanks for your collaboration!


This news has been written by Yana Luo, a doctoral student of the BiSC Project.