Description of the Circulatory System
The circulatory system is a vast network of organs and vessels that are responsible for the flow of blood, nutrients, hormones, oxygen and other gases to and from cells. Without the circulatory system, the body would not be able to fight disease or maintain a stable internal environment — such as proper temperature and pH — known as homeostasis.
Function of the Circulatory System
The main function of the circulatory system is to move blood and lymph through the body. Doing this transports nutrients and oxygen to the cells of the body and removes waste products such as carbon dioxide. The circulatory system is necessary to regulate temperature and pH balance and protect the body from diseases. One primary function of the circulatory system is the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the cells. This is why the system has two basic parts: the pulmonary circulation, which takes blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen, and systemic circulation, which takes the oxygenated blood throughout the body. Along the way, the blood picks up nutrients, attacks diseases and gathers waste for eventual elimination.
Though some scientists separate the cardiovascular and the lymphatic systems, since both systems operate using the same biological pathways, many scientists categorize them together as the circulatory system. Although all vertebrates, such as mammals, birds and reptiles, as well as annelids and cephalopods, have closed circulatory systems, in which the blood travels through vessels to organs and back to the heart, other animals, such as mollusks, have open circulatory systems in which the blood bathes the organs directly. However, in both types of circulatory systems, the purpose is the same: to get nutrients to the cells and ferry waste away from the cells.
What Organs are Included?
The heart, the blood vessels, the blood, and the lungs. The heart is found slightly to the left at the center of the chest, and it is primarily responsible for pumping blood and keeping the blood moving throughout the body. The lungs are responsible for adding oxygen to blood. The blood is pumped to the heart, which then circulates it through the arteries to all the tissues throughout the body. The three major types of blood vessels: the arteries, which carry the blood away from the heart; the capillaries, which enable the actual exchange of water and chemicals between the blood and the tissues; and the veins, which carry blood from the capillaries back toward the heart.
How Can you Keep the System Healthy?
Don’t smoke! (As if you would…) And don’t hang around people who do – second hand smoke is also bad for you.
Take vitamin E to keep the arteries supple.
Eat those fresh vegetables and fruit that supply you with antioxidants – very good for your heart.
Eat fish instead of red meat – much better for your heart.
Exercise – well it’s obvious, but even gentle exercise such as a brisk walk can pep up your circulatory system and encourage your heart to beat strongly.
Health Issues/Diseases that Affect the System
One heath issue is Coronary artery disease (narrowing of the arteries). The arteries, which start out smooth and elastic, get plaque on their inner walls, which can make them more rigid and narrowed. This restricts blood flow to your heart, which can then become starved of oxygen.
The plaque could rupture, leading to a heart attack or sudden cardiac death. Another issue is Mitral valve prolapse. In mitral valve prolapse, part of the mitral valve slips backward loosely into the chamber called the left atrium. This happens when the main heart muscle, called the left ventricle, squeezes during each heartbeat. Mitral valve prolapse differs from mitral valve stenosis. In mitral valve stenosis, the mitral valve is stiff and constricted.
How Does the System Work with Other Systems?
The digestive system works very closely with the circulatory system to get the absorbed nutrients distributed through your body. The circulatory system also carries chemical signals from your endocrine system that control the speed of digestion.
The body's oxygen transport system takes oxygen to the working muscles, through the circulatory and respiratory systems working together. The main workers are the heart, blood and the lungs. The whole oxygen transport system works in a cycle. This de-oxygenated blood is pumped back to the heart then on to the lungs.
Extra Interesting Information about the System
The heart beats around 3 billion times in the average person's life.
About 8 million blood cells die in the human body every second, and the same number are born each second.
Within a tiny droplet of blood, there are some 5 million red blood cells.
It takes about 20 seconds for a red blood cell to circle the whole body.
Red blood cells make approximately 250,000 round trips of the body before returning to the bone marrow, where they were born, to die.
Red blood cells may live for about 4 months circulating throughout the body, feeding the 60 trillion other body cells.