Importance of the Cardiovascular System

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As an aged care professional, knowledge of basic human anatomy and physiology is an important point of knowledge required in providing effective health care and is reflected in the HLTAP301B Recognise Healthy Body Systems in a Health Care Context.

Importance of the Cardiovascular System

The cardiovascular system is made up of heart and blood vessels. The two main roles of the cardiovascular system include the transportation of oxygen, blood cells, water and nutrients around the body to cells AND transporting and removing waste. The cardiovascular system also protects the body from infection and distributes heat accordingly.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia (and many countries around the world) and accounts for more than 45000 deaths every year. To put this into perspective, that equates to one death every twelve minutes. Cardiovascular disease is comprised of a heart, stroke, or blood vessel disease and will affect one in every six Australians and two in every three families. Risk factors and contributors to cardiovascular disease include smoking, inactivity (or sedentary lifestyle), high cholesterol and obesity.

What is the Cardiovascular System Comprised Of?

The cardiovascular system is comprised of three ‘bodies’, the heart, blood and blood vessels. Each of these work together to perform different functions within the cardiovascular system.

HeartHeart is defined as a hollow muscular organ that pumps the blood through the circulatory system by rhythmic contraction and dilation
BloodBlood is defined as the red liquid that circulates in the arteries and veins of vertebrate animals, carrying oxygen to and carbon dioxide from the tissues.
PlasmaThe component of blood that carries the blood cells, nutrients and antibodies.

Blood Cells

Red Blood CellsResponsible for carrying oxygen and carbon dioxide.White Blood CellsThese produce antibodies and destroy bacteria.PlateletsAssist in forming blood clots.
Blood VesselsBlood Vessel is defined as a tubular structure carrying blood through tissues and organs a vein, artery or capillary.
ArteriesResponsible for carrying blood from the heart to other body parts.
CapillariesThese are microscopic blood vessels that assist in the exchange of nutrients and tissues.
Veins Veins carry blood from the heart to the body, they are the thinnest vessels of the three.

For more information visit Mananatomy.

Functions of the Cardiovascular System

Each part of the heart has an important role to play in the overall functioning of the cardiovascular system. They are as follows:

  • Superior Vena Cava: Within the cardiovascular system, the Superior Vena Cava is a relatively short, wide, vein that is responsible for transportation of de-oxygenated blood from the upper half of the body to the right atrium.
  • Inferior Vena Cava: Similar to the superior vena cava, the inferior vena cava (also known as the posterior vena cava) is a short, yet wide, vein that carries the de-oxygenated blood from the lower half of the body to the right atrium of the heart.
  • Aorta: The main function of the aorta is to transport and distribute the oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. It is the largest artery and begins at the left ventricle and ends at the abdomen where it splits into two arteries the common iliac arteries.
  • Pulmonary Artery: The pulmonary artery is one of the only arteries that carry de-oxygenated blood. It is responsible for transferring this blood from the heart to the lungs.
  • Pulmonary Vein:  Pulmonary veins bring the blood to the heart. These veins carry the oxygenated blood from the lungs to the left atrium there are four main pulmonary veins originating from the left atrium (right superior and inferior, and left superior and inferior).
  • Right Atrium: Located in the upper right chamber of the heart, the right atrium receives the de-oxygenated blood through the vena cava and transports it to the right ventricle to carry the blood to the lungs to be oxygenated.
  • Left Atrium: Same as the right atrium, the left atrium is located in the upper right chamber of the heart. The left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and carries it to the left ventricle to be dispersed to the body.
  • Right Ventricle: The right ventricle transports blood from the right atrium to the main pulmonary artery which extends from the right ventricle into the left and right pulmonary arteries.
  • Left Ventricle: Located in the lower chamber of the heart, the left ventricle receives the blood from the left atrium and pumps it to the aorta which then distributes the blood to the body.

Topics: Cardiovascular System, Cardiovascular, Cardiovascular Disease

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