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The coronary arteries and its branches supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. To effectively supply the heart with the blood it needs, the coronary arteries need to be healthy.

The coronary arteries branch off the aorta and wrap around the heart, and the branches of the main arteries bring blood deep into the heart muscle. There are two main coronary arteries – the left main coronary artery and the right coronary artery. As you might guess, the left main coronary artery brings blood to the left ventricle and atrium. That artery divides up into two branches – the left anterior descending artery and the circumflex artery. The left descending artery supplies blood to the front left side of the heart, and circumflex artery supplies the outside and the back of the heart with blood. The right coronary artery supplies the right side – the right ventricle, right atrium, sinoatrial node (SA node), and the atrioventricular node (AV node). The SA and AV nodes regulate the heart rhythm. Like the left main coronary artery, the right coronary artery divides into branches – the right posterior descending artery and the acute marginal artery. The right coronary artery has two jobs – pump blood to the lungs and supply the bottom portion of the left ventricle and the back of the septum with blood.

Collateral circulation

There is a network of blood vessels that are not open when the coronary arteries are working properly. They are called collateral vessels. These vessels act as a backup to the coronary arteries, so if the coronary arteries narrow and limit blood flow to the heart, the collateral vessels may enlarge and start working to pick up the slack. This collateral circulation allows blood to flow around a blocked artery to other arteries or to the same artery after the blockage, which helps protect the heart from the injury that can occur when blood flow is limited.

The importance of the coronary arteries

Because the heart needs oxygen to function properly, the coronary arteries play a vital part in heart health. If they are diseased or damaged, they can reduce blood to the heart, which can lead to heart attack.

Atherosclerosis is a buildup of plaque on the walls of the coronary arteries, which narrows and weakens the arteries, making it difficult for the heart to do its job. Atherosclerosis is a leading cause of coronary artery disease (CAD). Coronary artery disease is a leading cause of death.

Who treats the coronary arteries?

Coronary artery disease may be treated by several medical specialists, including cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiovascular surgeons, interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons.

The Beaumont difference

Beaumont is a world leader in heart innovation. Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital has been ranked as one of the top cardiac and heart surgery programs in the nation for more than two decades. U.S. News and World Report has ranked our hospitals in Royal Oak and Troy as one of the nation’s top cardiac and heart surgery programs. Our heart and vascular teams provide the most advanced treatment options, including minimally invasive heart surgery, to people throughout Metro Detroit.

If you have coronary artery disease, our team of experts will work with you to ensure you get the care you need.

Find out why more patients in Southeast Michigan prefer Beaumont for heart care. Start your search at Beaumont. Find a Beaumont cardiologist, heart surgeon or cardiothoracic surgeon near you.