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Circulatory System

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Why is it important for your heart to continue beating even when youre sleeping?
What does your body need?
What are some wastes?

Circulation and Respiration

Each breath brings oxygen rich air into your body

Your cells need that oxygen
Your heart delivers oxygen to your cells
Working together, your circulatory and respiratory systems supply cells throughout the body with the nutrients and
oxygen that they need to stay alive!

Multicellular Needs

Unicellular organisms dont need a circulatory system, because the cell is in direct contact with the environment and
oxygen, nutrients and wastes can easily diffuse across the cell membrane by diffusion.
Multicellular organisms need a circulatory system to transport substances made in one part of the body to sites
where they are needed in another part of the body.


The circulatory system transports substances including oxygen, nutrients and wastes to and from cells responding to
changing demands by diffusion (from high to low concentration along concentration gradient).


Humans have a closed circulatory system.

Blood is pumped through a system of vessels

(In an open system, blood flows in vessels and sinuses/gills)

Sometimes the circulatory system is also called the cardiovascular system because:

Cardio = heart

Vascular = vessels

The human circulatory system consists of:

The heart

A series of blood vessels

Blood that flows through them

The Heart

Located near the center of your chest

A hollow organ about the size of your fist composed of cardiac muscle.

Enclosed in a protective sac of tissue called the pericardium

Inside there are two thin layers of epithelial and connective tissue
Contractions of the myocardium, a thick cardiac muscle, pump blood through the circulatory system
The heart contracts about 72 times a minute
Each contraction pumps about 70 mL of blood


Septum, or wall, separates the right side form the left side preventing mixing of oxygen-rich blood and oxygen-poor
Flaps of connective tissue called valves divide each side into 2 chambers: totaling 4 chambers

Upper chambers receive blood = atrium

Lower chambers pump blood out of heart = ventricle

Types of Circulation

Pulmonary circulation = from right side of the heart to lungs where carbon dioxide leaves the blood and oxygen is
Systemic circulation = from left side of the heart to organs

Coronary circulation = through heart tissue

Pulmonary Circulation

The right side of the heart pumps blood from the heart to the lungs
In the lungs, carbon dioxide leaves the blood while oxygen is absorbed.
The oxygen-rich blood goes into the left side of the heart

Systemic Circulation

The oxygen-rich blood from the left side of the heart is pumped to the rest of the body
Oxygen-poor blood returns to the right side of the heart
This blood is oxygen-poor because the cells absorbed the oxygen and released carbon dioxide into the blood
The oxygen-poor blood is ready for another trip to the lungs to get oxygen again

Coronary Circulation

Remember: the heart is an organ and needs nutrients, oxygen and creates wastes.
Blood flows to the tissues of the heart too!

Blood Flow through the heart

Blood leaves the heart in arteries, and blood returns to heart in veins.
Oxygenated blood returns from the lungs through the pulmonary veins to the left atrium.
Oxygenated blood is pumped from the left atrium through the mitral valve to the left ventricle.

Oxygenated blood leaves the left ventricle through the aortic valve to the aorta, which is the largest artery of your
The aorta branches into various arteries pumping blood through your body.
Deoxygenated blood returns from the top of your body through the superior vena cava and from the bottom of your
body through the inferior vena cava to the right atrium.
Deoxygenated blood is pumped from the right atrium through the tricuspid valve to the right ventricle.
Deoxygenated blood leaves the right ventricle through the pulmonary valve to the pulmonary arteries.
The pulmonary arteries pump blood to the lungs to absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide.

The Path of Blood


Blood enters into the atria of the heart, separated from the ventricles by valves, preventing back-flow of blood
keeping the blood flowing in one direction
When the atria contract, the valves open and blood flows into the ventricles
When the ventricles contract, the valves close preventing blood from flowing back into the atria and blood flows out
of the heart
At the exits of the ventricles, there are valves that prevent blood from flowing back into the heart
The lub-dup sound of your heart is caused by the closing of the hearts valves. The lub is when the ventricles
contract and blood being forced against the artioventricular or A-V (tricuspid or mitral) valves. The dup is the blood
being forced against the semilunar (aortic or pulmonary) valves.


There are two muscle contractions in the heart:

The atria

The ventricles

Each contraction begins in a small group of cardiac muscle cells in the right atrium that stimulate the rest of
the muscle cells = sinoatrial node (SA node)

Since the sinoatrial node sets the pace for the heart it is also called the pacemaker
The impulse spreads from the pacemaker through fibers in the atria to the atrioventricular node (AV node) and
through fibers in the ventricles
When the atria contract, blood flows into the ventricles
When the ventricle contract, blood flows out of the heart

Changing Heartbeat

Your heart can beat faster or slower, depending on your bodys need for oxygen-rich blood
When you exercise, your heart rate can increase to 200 beats per minute
The autonomic nervous system influences heart rate

Neurotransmitters released by neurons in the sympathetic nervous system can increase heart rate, and
those released by the parasympathetic nervous system can decrease heart rate

Blood vessels

Blood circulates in one direction and it is moved by the pumping of the heart
As blood flows through the circulatory system, it moves through three types of blood vessels:





Large vessels that carry blood away from the heart to tissues of the body
Except for the pulmonary arteries, all arteries carry oxygen-rich blood.
Arteries have thick walls of elastic connective tissue, contractible smooth muscle, and epithelial cells that help them
withstand the powerful pressure produced when the heart contracts and pushes blood into the arteries.


The smallest of the blood vessels connecting arteries and veins

Walls are one cell thick allowing for easier diffusion of nutrients and oxygen from capillaries to body cells and wastes
and carbon dioxide from body cells to capillaries


Return blood to the heart

Veins have walls of connective tissue and smooth muscle
Large veins contain valves that keep blood flowing towards the heart
Many veins are located near skeletal muscles, so when the muscles contract, they help force blood through the
veins, even against gravity
Exercise helps prevent accumulation of blood in limbs and stretching veins out of shape

Blood Pressure

The heart produces pressure when it contracts.

The force of blood on the arteries walls = blood pressure
Blood pressure decreases when the heart relaxes, but there must always be some pressure to keep the blood
Doctors measure blood pressure with a sphygmomanometer recording two numbers

Systolic pressure = force felt in arteries when ventricles contract

Diastolic pressure = force of blood felt in arteries when ventricles relax

Average adults blood pressure = 120/80

Regulating Blood Pressure

With the nervous system:

Sensory neurons at several places in the body detect blood pressure and send impulses to brain stem
(medulla oblongata)

When too high, the autonomic nervous system releases neurotransmitters that cause the smooth muscles
around blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure.

When too low, neurotransmitters are released that cause the smooth muscles to contract, elevating blood

With the endocrine/excretory system:

Hormones produced by the heart and other organs cause kidneys to remove more water from the blood
when blood pressure is too high, reducing blood volume and lowering blood pressure


Disorders of the circulatory system are very common:

High Blood Pressure

Heart Attack


Most stem from atherosclerosis = fatty deposits (plaque) builds up on walls of arteries, obstructing blood flow,
increasing blood pressure and risk of blood clots

High Blood Pressure

Also known as Hypertension

Forces heart to work harder, which may weaken or damage the heart muscle and vessels
More likely to develop heart disease and increased risk of heart attack and stroke

Heart Attack

A medical emergency
Coronary arteries (supplying heart blood) bring oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle itself
Blockage of coronary artery may damage or kill part of heart muscle (myocardium) due to lack of oxygen = heart

Symptoms include: chest pain/pressure, feeling of heartburn/indigestion, sudden dizziness, or brief loss of


Blood clots may break free from vessels and get stuck in a blood vessel leading to a part of the brain = stroke
Brain cells relying on that vessel may begin to die from lack of oxygen and brain function in that region may be lost
Strokes can also occur when a weakened artery in the brain burst, flooding the area with blood


Cardiovascular diseases are easy to prevent:

Exercise increases respiratory systems efficiency

Weight control reduces body fat and stress

Sensible diet low in saturated fat reduces risk of heart disease

Not smoking reduces risk of heart disease