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The cardiac-circulatory system may be thought of as a transportation

system. It takes nourishment and oxygen to the cells and carries away
waste products. The closed system is kept in motion by the force of the
heartbeat. Diseases that attack any part of this system interfere with the
overall function. Long-standing diseases of the cardiovascular system
eventually affect the pulmonary system as well.


The organs of the cardiovascular system include:

1. Heart: A central pumping station.
2. Blood Vessels
A. Arteries: Tubes that carry blood away from the heart.

 They have muscular, elastic walls with smooth

 They branch to form arterioles with thinner walls.
Arterioles then become capillaries.
 They carry blood with high concentration of
nutrients and oxygen (O2) to the body cells.
Major Arteries of the Body

B. Veins: Tubes that carry blood toward the heart.

 They have thinner muscular walls.

 They carry blood back to the heart.
 They carry blood with a lower concentration of
oxygen, more carbon dioxide (CO2), and more
waste products.
 They have cup-like valves that help move the
Major Veins of the Body

C. Capillaries: Tubes that connect arteries and veins.

 They have walls only one cell thick.

 They are the site of exchange of nutrients and
oxygen from the blood to the cells, and carbon
dioxide and waste products from the cells to the
3. Lymphatic Vessels: Tubes that carry lymph or tissue fluid to
the blood stream. Fluid from the blood stream passes into the
tissue spaces, where it is called tissue fluid. Some of the
tissue fluid returns to the bloodstream by way of the
capillaries. Some of it is first drawn off into the lymphatic
vessels, where it is called lymph. Eventually the lymph is
returned to general circulation and once more becomes part of
the blood.

4. Lymph Nodes: Masses of lymphatic tissue along the

pathway of the lymph. They filter the lymph.

5. Spleen: A
organ. The
some of the
blood cells
and helps
destroy worn-
out blood
cells. It acts as
a blood
reservoir or
blood bank.

6. Blood: A
tissue made
up of a liquid
(plasma) and

Blood is a red body fluid composed of plasma and cellular elements. The
body contains 4 to 6 quarts (liters) of blood.


Plasma forms 55 percent of the blood and is the liquid watery solution
• Antibodies (gamma globulins) - chemicals to fight infection.
• Nutrients - such as glucose, amino acids, fats, and salts.
• Gases - such as oxygen and carbon dioxide.
• Waste products - such as urea and creatine.


The blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and lymphatic tissues of
the body. The bone marrow, liver, and spleen destroy worn-out blood cells.
The red blood cells include red blood cells, white blood cells, and

• Red Blood Cells (RBC): Called erythrocytes, carry most of the

oxygen and small amounts of carbon dioxide. There are 4.5 to
5 million RBC per cubic millimeter (mm3).

• White Blood Cells (WBC): Called leukocytes, fight infection.

There are 7,000 to 8,000 WBC/ mm3.

• Thrombocytes: Also called platelets, are not whole cells but

only parts of cells. They seal small leaks in the walls of blood
vessels and initiate blood clotting. There are 200,000 to
400,000 thrombocytes/ mm3.

External view of the heart & blood vessels.

The heart is a hollow muscular organ about the size of fist. It is divided into
a right and left side by a muscular wall called the septum and into four
chambers. There are 3 layers in the heart wall. The endocardium lines the
heart chambers. The myocardium is the muscle layer. The pericardium is a
membranous outer coating.

The four chambers are:

1. The Right Atrium (RA): (right upper heart chamber) receives
blood from all over the body. This blood has a low oxygen
content and a relatively high carbon dioxide level. It is called
deoxygenated blood.

2. The Right Ventricle (RV): (right lower heart chamber)

receives blood from the right atrium and sends it out to the
lungs through the pulmonary artery to pick up oxygen and get
rid of the carbon dioxide.

3. The Left Atrium (LA): (left upper heart chamber) receives

oxygenated blood from the lungs and sends it to the left

4. The Left Ventricle (LV): (left lower heart chamber) receives

oxygenated blood from left atrium and sends it out through the
aorta to the entire body.

Valves separate the chambers. They also guard the exit of the pulmonary
artery and aorta to prevent backflow and maintain a constant forward
motion. The pulmonary artery carries blood to the lungs. The aorta is the
largest blood vessel in the body. The valves are located as follows:

• Tricuspid valve - between right atrium and right

• Bicuspid (mitral) valve - between left atrium and left
• Pulmonary semilunar valves - between right ventricle
and pulmonary artery.
• Aortic semilunar valve - between left ventricle and aorta.

Nerve impulses make the heart contract regularly according to body needs.
For example, when you run, your body cells need more oxygen. The cells
signal the brain that they need more oxygen. The brain sends a signal to
the heart through the nerves, telling it to supply more blood. These nerve
impulses cause the heart to beat faster. Thus, more oxygenated blood is
pumped to the body cells to supply the oxygen required due to these
impulses causing the heart to beat at a faster rate.


Heart Anatomy & the Cardiac Cycle

The heart pumps blood through the body by a series of movements known
as the cardiac cycle.
1. First the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria, relax
and fill with blood as the lower chambers contract, forcing
blood out of the heart through the aorta and pulmonary

2. Next, the lower chambers relax, allowing blood to flow into

them from the contracting upper chambers.

3. Then the cycle is repeated.

Flow of blood from the heart to the lungs,

to the body, and back to the heart to
begin the cycle again.
Each cycle lasts about 0.8 second. This happens about 70 to 80 times per
minute in the average adult.

The pulse you feel at the radial artery corresponds to the ventricular
contraction. The sounds you hear when listening to the heart and when
taking a blood pressure are the sounds made by the closing of the valves
during the cardiac cycle.

The rate and rhythm of the cardiac cycle are regulated by the conduction
system. The conduction system is made up of special neuromuscular
tissue that sends out impulses. The impulses eventually reach the
myocardial cells, which respond by contracting.

• The impulses begin at the S-A node in the right atrium

and spread across the two atria.
• The atria contract.
• Impulses from the S-A node reach the A-V node in the
right atrium.
• Messages from the A-V node then spread through the
bundle of His in the septum. From there they go through
the Purkinje fibers to the walls of the ventricles.
• The ventricles contract, forcing the blood forward.

An electrocardiogram, called an ECG or an EKG, is a test that traces the

electrical impulses of the heart. Heart disease may be detected with this


many large arteries and veins take their names from the bones they are
near of from the part of the body they serve. For example, the femoral
artery and vein run close to the femur (thigh bone). The subclavian arteries
and veins are found under the clavicle. The axillary arteries and veins are
found in the axillary (armpit) area.