How Does the Cardiovascular System Work

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How Does the Cardiovascular System Work? Cardiovascular System The cardiovascular system includes blood, blood vessels and the heart performing well-known roles necessary to life. As blood flows through the body, it carries oxygen, hormones and enzymes to the cells and transports carbon dioxide and other wastes for removal from the body. Blood also prevents fluid loss through clotting and fights infection. Cardiac Cycle * The heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout the body. Of course, the process is not quite that simple. The heart has four chambers, two on the right (right atrium and right ventricle) and two on the left (left atrium and left ventricle). The right side is responsible for accepting blood from the body and getting it to the lungs. The lungs add oxygen to the blood and remove carbon dioxide. Then the left side is responsible for accepting blood from the lungs and pumping it back out into the body. Think of it like a cycle where blood flows like this: From the body into the top right chamber (right atrium) -- down into the bottom right chamber (right ventricle) -- out to the lungs -- back to the top left chamber (left atrium) -- down to the bottom left chamber (left ventricle) -- then out to the body. The heart is innervated by the autonomic nervous system, but it also has its own system to generate electrical impulses that stimulate cardiac muscle to contract. These electrical impulses can be recorded in an ECG (electrocardiogram) and used to detect problems with the heart. Blood * Blood consists of red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma. Red blood cells transport oxygen and carbon dioxide. White blood cells combat inflammation and infection. Plasma, the liquid part of the blood, is mostly water but it also carries antibodies and proteins. Blood Vessels * Arteries carry blood away from the heart to the body.

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