All over the body, veins take deoxygenated blood to the lungs. When all the deoxygenated blood arrives to the lungs, it is oxygenated and then transferred to the pulmonary veins, which carry it back to the heart. The pulmonary veins are located in the lungs. They are 4 large veins which unlike other veins carry oxygenated blood back to the heart. All four pulmonary veins enter the left atrium (small chamber) of the heart.
Why is the pulmonary vein important?
When the heart receives the oxygenated blood from the lungs, it pumps it to the rest of the body. When the heart fails and becomes weak (after a heart attack), it can no longer function effectively. In any condition where the muscles of the heart have become weak, it can no longer accept the oxygenated blood from the lungs. Since the weak heart cannot push all the blood out, it can no longer accept anymore blood either. Thus the pulmonary veins get congested. Unfortunately the pulmonary veins are not able to push the blood back or anywhere else. As the blood keeps on collecting in the pulmonary veins, some of the fluid starts to leak out into the chest cavity. This is what is known as pulmonary edema or what we call congestive heart failure.
Are there any congenital problems with pulmonary veins?
YES: In children there are some heart disorders where by the pulmonary vein may be narrowed or obstructed. In such cases, blood is unable to get the oxygenated blood and the infant will appear blue.
In others children, the pulmonary veins may not empty in the correct chamber of the heart and this can also lead to a blue baby.
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