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Lab 10 Physiology of the Circulatory System

Introduction: The human circulatory system is a collection of structures thorough which

oxygen and nutrient rich blood flows to all tissues of the body for metabolism and
growth, and to remove metabolic wastes. The blood is pumped to these tissues by the
heart through a circuit composed of arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins.
Oxygenated blood is pumped to the tissues from the left side of the heart, whereas
deoxygenated blood is pumped to the lungs from the right side of the heart. This circuit
where gas exchange takes place within the alveoli of the lung is very important and is
known as the pulmonary circuit. When the body is exercised changes can take place in
the circulatory system that allow more blood to pass to actively respiring muscle cells and
less to nonmuscular tissue. Increased heart rate, arterial pressure, body temperature, and
breathing rate also occur during exercise.

Arterial blood pressure is directly dependant on the amount of blood pumped by the heart
per minute and the resistance to blood flow through the arterioles. This is an important
measurable aspect of the circulatory system and it is measured using a
sphygmomanometer. This device has an inflatable cuff that connects to a hand pump and
a pressure gauge, graduated in millimeters of mercury, by rubber tubing. The cuff is
wrapped around the upper arm and inflated, the person taking the pressure then listens for
two sounds and observes the gauge to determine what the blood pressure is. The systolic
number is determined by the first noise heard as the cuff is deflated, and the diastolic
number is determined by the last distinct noise heard.

Hypothesis: From this experiment it is expected that a subject’s heart rate and blood
pressure will change during rest and exercise based on how physically fit they are. If the
subject is in good shape the heart rate will not increase significantly and the blood
pressure will increase. The opposite is true of someone in poor shape.

Materials: The materials used in this experiment include a blood pressure kit, alcohol
swabs, a stopwatch, two depression slides, a cotton ball, four rubber bands, a pipet, a
petri dish, a Daphnia culture, a stereomicroscope, and some ice.


A. Measuring Blood Pressure: To measure blood pressure, one member of the lab group
sat down in a chair, rolled up his sleeve, and then the sphygmomanometer cuff was
placed around his upper left arm at heart level. The cuff was then pumped to 200mm Hg,
which is safely higher than the blood pressure of the subject. The stethoscope was then
placed in the well of the subject’s elbow, where the brachial artery is located, and
pressure was slowly released as the taker listened for a pulse. The pressure on the gauge
was noted when first sound of Korotkoff was heard, which is the pressure that blood is
first able to pass through the artery during systole, representing systolic pressure. The
sounds of Korotkoff are heard between the systolic and diastolic blood pressures. The
diastolic pressure is the reading of the gauge at the time the sounds of Korotkoff can no
longer be heard. The subject’s blood pressure was taken two more times and an average
was calculated and recorded in Table 1.

Average Blood Pressure

Systolic Pressure Diastolic Pressure

Age in Years Men Women Men Women
10 103 103 69 70
11 104 104 70 71
12 106 106 71 72
13 108 108 72 73
14 110 110 73 74
15 112 112 75 76
16 118 116 73 72
17 121 116 74 72
18 120 116 74 72
19 122 115 75 71
20-24 123 116 76 72
25-29 125 117 78 74
30-34 126 120 79 75
35-39 127 124 80 78
40-44 129 127 81 80
45-49 130 131 82 82
50-54 135 137 83 84
55-59 138 139 84 84
60-64 142 144 85 85
65-69 143 154 83 85
70-74 145 159 82 85

B. Physical Fitness Test: The first numbers recorded from this section of the experiment
were those of standing vs. resting blood pressure. To do this a member of the lab group
had to lie down on a table for five minutes. After five minutes the subject’s blood
pressure was taken while he was still lying down and the numbers were recorded in Table
2. The subject remained lying down for another two minutes, stood up, and their blood
pressure was taken again. The standing systolic pressure was subtracted from the resting
systolic pressure and recorded in Table 2. A chart was used to determine the number of
points received by the subject and recorded in Table 3.
The next part of this section is where the subject’s standing heart rate was determined.
Taken by the subject was the radial artery pulse by counting the number of beats for 30
seconds. That number was multiplied by 2 to obtain the number of beats per minute. That
number was recorded in Table 3. Another chart was used to determine the amount of
points the subject received for this section and that number was also recorded in Table 3.

Next the resting heart rate was determined by having the subject lie down on a table for
five minutes. After five minutes the subject’s pulse was taken and recorded in Table 3.
Once again a chart was used to determine the number of points the subject received for
this section of the experiment and the number was recorded in Table 3.

Next the Baroreceptor reflex test was given to the subject. The subject had to lie down for
five minutes, stand up quickly, and record the pulse. From this number the resting heart
rate was subtracted and recorded in Table 3. A chart was then used to determine the
number of points the subject received for this section and recorded in Table 3.

The endurance test was the last leg of this section of the experiment. To do this the
subject stepped up with one foot onto an 18 inch high surface and then brought up the
other foot onto the surface. This was continued for 15 seconds, and then his pulse was
taken at several intervals. First the pulse was taken right after the exercise for 15 seconds
and multiplied by four. This was repeated one more time after that as well. Then the pulse
was taken every 30 seconds for 120 seconds after that. The data was recorded in Table 4.
The amount of time it took for the subject’s heart rate to return to normal was figured and
a chart was used to award points. These heart rates were then compared to the standing
heart rate. Next, the standing heart rate was subtracted from the rate taken right after
exercise, and yet another chart was used to award points.

C. Investigating Heart Rate in Daphnia: Two depression slides were obtained and a
small piece of cotton was placed in the center of one of the slides. Several Daphnia were
placed on the slide with a pipet and the other slide was placed on top of this slide and
wrapped together with a rubber band on each end. A petri dish was filled with room-
temperature water, 1cm deep and the slides were placed into it. The heart of the largest
Daphnia was then located under the stereomicroscope and the number of beats in 15
seconds was determined, multiplied by four, and the results placed in Table 5. Into the
dish was then added ice water and the same Daphnia’s heart rate was determined and
recorded in Table 5. Gradually warm water was added and the heart rate was taken at five
minute intervals until the normal heart rate is noted. These results were put in Table 5.

Table 1

Blood Systolic Diastolic


Trial 1 115 72

Trial 2 115 70

Trial 3 115 74

Average 115 72

Table 2

Standing vs. Resting Blood Pressure

Position Systolic Diastolic

Lying Down 5 110 72


Lying to Standing 120 72

Change 10 0

Table 3

Fitness Points

Activity Result Fitness Points

Change in Blood Pressure 10 3

Standing Pulse Rate 78 3

Resting Pulse Rate 64 3

Baroreceptor Reflex 76 3

Heart Rate Recovery After Exercise 28 4

Heart Rate Increase After Exercise 18 2

Total Points - 18

Table 4

Heart Rate After Exercise

Interval No. of Heart Rate


0 to 15 sec. 24 X4= 96

16 to 30 sec. 19 X4= 76

31 to 60 sec. 35 X2= 70

61 to 90 sec. 35 X2= 70

91 to 120 35 X2= 70

Total Score Cardiovascular Fitness

17 to 18 Excellent

14 to 16 Good

8 to 13 Fair

7 or less Poor

1. What changes occur in the circulatory system when a person stands up from a
prone position? How do these changes affect the heart rate and blood pressure of
the individual?

The circulatory system is not working very hard when a person is at rest so when that
person stands up suddenly the blood pressure and heart rate of that person increase.

2. How does the circulatory system, and the heart in particular, of a conditioned
athlete differ from that of a person in poor shape?

The heart of a conditioned athlete is stronger because it has been worked harder pumping
more blood when that person exercises. The heart of a person in poor shape has not been
worked as hard.

3. Why is high blood pressure dangerous? What health problems does it lead to?

High blood pressure is dangerous because the heart has to work to hard to push the blood
through the various veins and arteries and a heart attack can occur.

4. What sort of behaviors encourage high blood pressure? Why?

Eating fatty foods and not exercising cause high blood pressure because the heart is not
working hard to pump the blood, which makes it weak.

Table 5

Temperature (C) Heartbeats per Minute

Room Temperature 200

0 to 5 84

10 160

15 152
20 204

25 200

30 212

35 216

Change in Metabolic Rate

Temperature Rate of the reaction (change in heart rate)


0-10 Q10 =1.9

10-20 Q10 =1.275

20-30 Q10 =1.04


1. Why does the rate of activity of ectothermic organisms increase with a rise in the
temperature of its environment? How is this different from an endothermic

Ectothermic organisms’ body heat is determined by the environment, so their metabolic

rates also change with this. Endotherms have a constant body temperature and do not
change their metabolic rate strictly based on environmental conditions.

2. If this experiment were performed on a human subject, what results would you
expect? Explain.

A human’s heart would also be affected by the temperature changes, but not to the extent
that the Daphnia heart did.
Error Analysis: The only possible source of error in this lab would have been the slight
misreading of the gauge on the sphygmomanometer.

Conclusions: Cardiovascular fitness is very important to living a healthy life. If one

doesn’t exercise and eat healthy foods they run a risk of being in poor shape and having a
heart attack or other serious things. Heart rate and blood pressure readings can give a
person a good idea about how healthy they are or how healthy they need to be. Blood
pressure is so important to a person’s health it is checked at every visit to the doctor or