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The circulatory system (in humans) faces three major challenges to maintain proper blood flow: 1. Blood must flow in only one direction. 2. Blood must flow freely. 3. Blood must be pumped in a smooth, coordinated manner through the chambers of the heart and throughout the system. What mechanisms enable the circulatory system to meet these challenges? Be VERY specific in your discussions! (Consider the three components of one’s circulatory system when looking at the three questions) 1. The circulatory system deals with transportation of blood throughout the body, Blood allows for the flow of gases, nutrients, and metabolic wastes. The transfer of these items occurs in capillary beds where diffusion and osmosis causes the flow of substances. The difference in the level of oxygen and carbon dioxide leads to the diffusion of these gases to reach equilibrium. Oxygenated blood comes in and blood with no oxygen and filled with carbon dioxide travels out. Osmosis allows the flow of liquids through the laws of diffusion. The system is also able to filter out other substances. (http://www.webbooks.com/eLibrary/Medicine/Physiology/Cardiovascular/Cardio.htm) Since both oxygenated and blood carrying no oxygen is flowing, blood needs to flow in one direction. Deoxygenated blood comes into the heart through the Superior and Inferior Vena Cava. From here, it is best to think of the system as two circuits. The pulmonary circuit deals with oxygenating the blood and getting rid of carbon dioxide, and the systemic circuit gets blood to the rest of the body and back to the heart. (http://www.biologyinmotion.com/cardio/index.html). While the two circuits can be described as separate processes, they are occurring simultaneously. The right half of the heart, with the right atrium and right ventricle comprises the pulmonary circuit, while the left half of the heart with the left atrium and left ventricle comprises the systemic circuit. The separation of halves allows blood to flow in one direction effectively and efficiently. So after deoxygenated blood has entered the right atrium, it needs to pass into the right ventricle. The physical differences between the atria and ventricles is in the thickness of it. The sack that encloses the heart is the pericardium, which is comprised of three layers. The outer layer is the epicardium, the middle layer is the myocardium, and the inner layer is the endocardium. Atria are thin-walled and the ventricles are thickwalled. The variation in thickness is due to the level of myocardium. This thickness varies based on the function of each. The right ventricle pumps into the lungs and the left ventricle pumps into the rest of the body; therefore, they are thicker.

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