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What is Blood Circulation?

The circulatory system is an organ system that moves nutrients, gases, and wastes to and from cells, helps fight diseases and helps stabilize body temperature and pH to maintain homeostasis. This system may be seen strictly as a blood distribution network, but some consider the circulatory system as composed of the cardiovascular system, which distributes blood, and the lymphatic system, which distributes lymph.

While humans, as well as other vertebrates, have a closed cardiovascular system (meaning that the blood never leaves the network of arteries, veins and capillaries), some invertebrate groups have an open cardiovascular system. The most primitive animal phyla lack circulatory systems. The lymphatic system, on the other hand, is an open system.

Human circulatory system:
The main components of the human circulatory system are the heart, the blood, and the blood vessels. The circulatory system includes: the pulmonary circulation, a "loop" through the lungs where blood is oxygenated; and the systemic circulation, a "loop" through the rest of the body to provide oxygenated blood. An average adult contains five to six quarts (roughly 4.7 to 5.7 liters) of blood, which consists of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Also, the digestive system works with the circulatory system to provide the nutrients the system needs to keep the heart pumping.

Two types of fluids move through the circulatory system: blood and lymph. The blood, heart, and blood vessels form the cardiovascular system. The lymph, lymph nodes, and lymph vessels form the lymphatic system. The cardiovascular system and the lymphatic system collectively make up the circulatory system.

Systemic circulation:
Systemic circulation is the portion of the cardiovascular system which carries oxygenated blood away from the heart, to the body, and returns deoxygenated blood back to the heart. In general, arteries bring oxygenated blood to the tissues; veins bring deoxygenated blood back to the heart.

In the case of the pulmonary vessels, however, the oxygenation is reversed: the pulmonary artery takes deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs, and oxygenated blood is pumped back through the pulmonary vein to the heart. As blood circulates through the body, oxygen and nutrients diffuse from the blood into cells surrounding the capillaries, and carbon dioxide diffuses into the blood from the capillary cells.

The release of oxygen from red blood cells or erythrocytes is regulated in mammals. It increases with an increase of carbon dioxide in tissues, an increase in temperature, or a decrease in pH. Such characteristics are exhibited by tissues undergoing high metabolism, as they require increased levels of oxygen.

Pulmonary circulation:
Main article: Pulmonary circulation Pulmonary circulation is the portion of the cardiovascular system which carries oxygen-depleted blood away from the heart, to the lungs, and returns oxygenated blood back to the heart.

De-oxygenated blood enters the right atrium of the heart and flows into the right ventricle where it is pumped through the pulmonary arteries to the lungs. Pulmonary veins return the now oxygen-rich blood to the heart, where it enters the left atrium before flowing into the left ventricle. From the left ventricle the oxygen-rich blood is pumped out via the aorta, and on to the rest of the body.

Coronary circulation:
Main article: Coronary circulation The coronary circulatory system provides a blood supply to the heart. As it provides oxygenated blood to the heart, it is by definition a part of the systemic circulatory system.

The heart pumps oxygenated blood to the body and deoxygenated blood to the lungs. In the human heart there is one atrium and one ventricle for each circulation, and with both a systemic and a pulmonary circulation there are four chambers in total: left atrium, left ventricle, right atrium and right ventricle.

Closed cardiovascular system:
The cardiovascular systems of humans are closed, meaning that the blood never leaves the network of blood vessels. In contrast, oxygen and nutrients diffuse across the blood vessel layers and enters interstitial fluid, which carries oxygen and nutrients to the target cells, and carbon dioxide and wastes in the opposite direction. The other component of the circulatory system, the lymphatic system, is not closed.

Other vertebrates:
The circulatory systems of all vertebrates, as well as of annelids (for example, earthworms) and cephalopods (squid and octopus) are closed, just as in humans. Still, the systems of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds show various stages of the evolution of the circulatory system.

In fish, the system has only one circuit, with the blood being pumped through the capillaries of the gills and on to the capillaries of the body tissues. This is known as single cycle circulation. The heart of fish is therefore only a single pump (consisting of two chambers). In amphibians and most reptiles, a double circulatory system is used, but the heart is not always completely separated into two pumps. Amphibians have a three-chambered heart.

In reptiles, the ventricular septum of the heart is incomplete and the pulmonary artery is equipped with a sphincter muscle. This allows a second possible route of blood flow. Instead of blood flowing through the pulmonary artery to the lungs, the sphincter may be contracted to divert this blood flow through the incomplete ventricular septum into the left ventricle and out through the aorta. This means the blood flows from the capillaries to the heart and back to the capillaries instead of to the lungs. This process is useful to ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals in the regulation of their body temperature.

Birds and mammals show complete separation of the heart into two pumps, for a total of four heart chambers; it is thought that the four-chambered heart of birds evolved independently from that of mammals.

Open circulatory system: The open circulatory system is an arrangement of internal transport present in many animals such as molluscs and arthropods, in which fluid (called hemolymph) in a cavity called the hemocoel bathes the organs directly with oxygen and nutrients and there is no distinction between blood and interstitial fluid; this combined fluid is called hemolymph or haemolymph. Muscular movements by the animal during locomotion can facilitate hemolymph movement, but diverting flow from one area to another is limited. When the heart relaxes, blood is drawn back toward the heart through open-ended pores (ostia).

Hemolymph fills all of the interior hemocoel of the body and surrounds all cells. Hemolymph is composed of water, inorganic salts (mostly Na+, Cl-, K+, Mg2+, and Ca2+), and organic compounds (mostly carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids). The primary oxygen transporter molecule is hemocyanin.

There are free-floating cells, the hemocytes, within the hemolymph. They play a role in the arthropod immune system.

No circulatory system:
Circulatory systems are absent in some animals, including flatworms (phylum Platyhelminthes). Their body cavity has no lining or enclosed fluid. Instead a muscular pharynx leads to an extensively branched digestive system that facilitates direct diffusion of nutrients to all cells. The flatworm's dorso-ventrally flattened body shape also restricts the distance of any cell from the digestive system or the exterior of the organism. Oxygen can diffuse from the surrounding water into the cells, and carbon dioxide can diffuse out. Consequently every cell is able to obtain nutrients, water and oxygen without the need of a transport system.

Measurement techniques:

Electrocardiogram for cardiac electrophysiology
Sphygmomanometer and stethoscope for blood pressure
Pulse meter for cardiac function (heart rate, rhythm, dropped beats)
Pulse commonly used to determine the heart rate in absence of certain cardiac pathologies
Nail bed blanching test test for perfusion
Vessel cannula or catheter pressure measurement pulmonary wedge pressure or in older animal experiments.

Cardiovascular disease
High Blood Pressure. Varicose Veins.

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