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Facts About the Cardiovascular System

Posted by Joanna Culley on

Inside our bodies, we have systems for basically every single biological function like breathing, digesting food and releasing hormones. However, transportation is a huge feature that we do not notice as often and is just as important for the proper functioning of our anatomy. The cardiovascular system is responsible for carrying blood through the vessels or delivery routes with the necessary nutrients organs need, and afterward, the remaining waste products that need to be removed.

This system is made of three main parts: the heart, the blood vessel, and the blood itself. The heart operates as a pump, pushing the nutrient-filled blood to organs, tissues, and cells inside your body. Arteries, arterioles, and capillaries, as well as veins and venules, create a complex network that is able to carry the blood to where is needed and return it to the heart when it no longer has nutrients. If laid out, this entire structure of vessels would extend far enough to circle the Earth twice, since its length can be up to 60,000 miles.

Blood is the most important substance in this entire system, and it is crucial for most of the bodily functions we perform. The different elements that comprise it are:

  • Red blood cells: These are the most common type of blood cells inside the body, and they make up for about 45% of the blood volume. They are also known as erythrocytes, and they are in charge of transporting oxygen in the blood through a red pigment called hemoglobin. These cells are produced in the red bone marrow at a rate of 2 million cells per second and have a biconcave shape.

  • White blood cells: Also called leukocytes, these cells actually make up a very small percentage of the totality of cells inside the bloodstream. However, they are crucial for the body’s immune system functions. The main two types of leukocytes are granular and agranular.

  • Platelets: Responsible for the clotting of blood and formation of scabs, these cells known as thrombocytes are also formed in the red bone marrow. They do not have a nucleus and usually die within a week after macrophages digest them.

  • Plasma: It is the liquid, non-cellular portion of the blood. It is about 55% of the entire blood volume and many dissolved substances can be found inside it. For most humans, plasma is 90% made of water, although this number can vary depending on individual hydration levels. Proteins that can be found in this liquid are glucose, electrolytes, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other cellular waste products.

  • How is the cardiovascular system affected when we age?

    Several changes can occur to our cardiovascular system as we grow old, and they are a natural part of the aging process. For starters, our heart rate will slow down because the time between heartbeats increases with time. That situation will make our heart unable to pump more blood to our body during exercise. For women, aging also means a decrease in the amount of blood that is pumped per minute, but not for men with no heart problems.

    What does heart disease really mean?

    This term includes a broad variety of diseases and conditions related to the circulatory system, and they can affect different specific parts of it. The most common ones are:

    • Strokes: Blockage of the bloodstream to the brain.
    • Aneurysm: Internal bleeding due to a damaged blood vessel.
    • Hypertension: High blood pressure that leads to the heart working harder.
    • Heart attack: Heart’s blood flow is blocked.

    What is Hemostasis?

    It is the name of the process when blood clots and scabs are formed, managed by the platelets. The latter are usually inactive until a wound or a leakage of blood is reached by them. After that, they change their form to a spiny ball, become very sticky and latch themselves to the damaged tissue. Together, they form a platelet plug that will keep the blood in the vessel until the tissue is repaired, working as a temporary seal.

    Veins from the stomach and intestines are unique

    These vessels have a unique set of functions because, instead of pushing blood back to the heart, they carry it to the liver through the hepatic portal vein. This liquid is particularly rich in nutrients and proteins from the food, and when it has already reached the liver, it returns to the heart through the inferior vena cava.

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