Circulatory & Cardiovascular System
What is the Circulatory System?
The heart and circulatory system (also called the cardiovascular system) make up the network that delivers blood to the body's tissues. With each heartbeat, blood is sent throughout our bodies, carrying oxygen and nutrients to all of our cells.
Every day, the approximately 10 pints (5 liters) of blood in your body travel many times through about 60,000 miles (96,560 kilometers) of blood vessels that branch and cross, linking the cells of our organs and body parts. From the hard-working heart, to our thickest arteries, to capillaries so thin that they can only be seen through a microscope, the cardiovascular system is our body's lifeline.
The circulatory system is composed of the heart and blood vessels, including arteries, veins, and capillaries.
The heart is the key organ in the circulatory system. As a hollow, muscular pump, its main function is to propel blood throughout the body. It usually beats from 60 to 100 times per minute, but can go much faster when it needs to. It beats about 100,000 times a day, more than 30 million times per year, and about 2.5 billion times in a 70-year lifetime.
The heart gets messages from the body that tell it when to pump more or less blood depending on a person's needs. When we're sleeping, it pumps just enough to provide for the lower amounts of oxygen needed by our bodies at rest. When we're exercising or frightened, the heart pumps faster to get more oxygen to our bodies.
The heart has four chambers that are enclosed by thick, muscular walls. It lies between the lungs and just to the left of the middle of the chest cavity. The bottom part of the heart is divided into two chambers called the right and left ventricles, which pump blood out of the heart. A wall called the interventricular septum divides the ventricles.
Blood and Blood Vessels
The blood is an amazing substance that is constantly flowing through our bodies.
- Your blood is pumped by your heart.
- Your blood travels through thousands of miles of blood vessels right within your own body.
- Your blood carries nutrients, water, oxygen and waste products to and from your body cells.
- A young person has about a gallon of blood. An adult has about 5 quarts.
- Your blood is not just a red liquid but rather is made up of liquids, solids and small amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Red Blood CellsRed Blood Cells are responsible for carrying oxygen and carbon dioxide. Red Blood Cells pick up oxygen in the lungs and transport it to all the body cells. After delivering the oxygen to the cells it gathers up the carbon dioxide(a waste gas produced as our cells are working) and transports carbon dioxide back to the lungs where it is removed from the body when we exhale(breath out). There are about 5,000,000 Red Blood Cells in ONE drop of blood.
White Blood Cells (Germinators)White Blood Cells help the body fight off germs. White Blood Cells attack and destroy germs when they enter the body. When you have an infection your body will produce more White Blood Cells to help fight an infection. Sometimes our White Blood Cells need a little help and the Doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to help our White Blood Cells fight a large scale infection.
PlateletsPlatelets are blood cells that help stop bleeding. When we cut ourselves we have broken a blood vessel and the blood leaks out. In order to plug up the holes where the blood is leaking from the platelets start to stick to the opening of the damaged blood vessels. As the platelets stick to the opening of the damaged vessel they attract more platelets, fibers and other blood cells to help form a plug to seal the broken blood vessel. When the platelet plug is completely formed the wound stops bleeding. We call our platelet plugs scabs.
PlasmaPlasma is the liquid part of the blood. Approximately half of your blood is made of plasma. The plasma carries the blood cells and other components throughout the body. Plasma is made in the liver.
Where are the blood cells made?
The Red Blood Cells, White Blood Cells and Platelets are made by the bone marrow. Bone marrow is a soft tissue inside of our bones that produces blood cells.
The Blood Vessels
Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood AWAY from the heart, much of which is oxygen rich. Remember, A A Arteries Away, A A Arteries Away, A A Arteries Away.
Capillaries are tiny blood vessels as thin or thinner than the hairs on your head. Capillaries connect arteries to veins. Food substances(nutrients), oxygen and wastes pass in and out of your blood through the capillary walls.
Veins carry blood back toward your heart.
Arteries and Veins
Red arteries are connected to blue veins by capillaries.
Artery vs Vein
Notice the difference in the size of the muscle layer in each. Which has a larger muscle layer? Why do you think it is thicker?
Blood is transported throughout our bodies through arteries and veins.