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Anatomy & Physiology - Body


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The Cardiovascular System

Anatomy & Physiology



The branches of science that will help you understand the body parts and
functions are anatomy and physiology. Anatomy deals with the study of the
human body (the component parts, structure and position) and physiology the
study of how the body functions.

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The body comprises of a number of systems including the: Cardiovascular

system, Digestive system, Endocrine system, Muscular system, Neurological
system, Respiratory system and the Skeletal system.

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The cardiovascular system comprises of the heart, blood, blood vessels and
lymphatic system.

The function of the heart is to pump blood around the body. The heart is a
hollow, muscular organ divided by a vertical wall called the septum. These two
chambers are further divided into the thin walled atrium above, and a thick
walled ventricle below, making four chambers. Between each pair of chambers
are valves preventing any back flow of blood. Blood vessels leaving the heart
generally carry oxygenated blood through vessels known as arteries. These
are large, hollow elastic tubes with thick muscular walls that are designed to
withstand the high pressure with the blood leaving the heart. Their size
gradually diminishes as they spread throughout the body, ultimately reaching
fine, hair-like vessels known as capillaries. Blood vessels that return blood to
the heart are known as veins which generally carry de-oxygenated blood to
the heart. They are elastic tubes containing valves to help prevent back flow
of blood. Blood is forced through arteries by the pressure from the heart
whereas venous flow is aided by muscular contraction.
The only two exceptions to the above are the pulmonary artery, which carries
de-oxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs, and the pulmonary vein,
which carries oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart. The circulation is
divided into two principle systems known as the general or systemic
circulation, that is the circulation around the body, and the pulmonary
circulation to and from the lungs.


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The fluid that surrounds tissue cells throughout the body is called interstitial
fluid and is serviced by blood transporting oxygen and nutrients to it whilst
lymph removes toxins and waste products. Blood forms about 79% of the
body weight consisting of Plasma, Corpuscles and Platelets. Erythrocyte (red
blood cells) transport oxygen and carbon dioxide, leucocytes (white blood
cells), produced in red bone marrow (myeloid tissue), and lymphocytes fight
infection and thrombocyte (platelet) are essential to blood clotting at the site
of an injury. Plasma is a clear slightly alkaline yellow fluid in which the
following are dissolved - blood, proteins, salts, waste materials, gases,
enzymes, hormones and vitamins. The blood has three main functions,
transport, regulation, and protection.

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oxygen from the lungs to the cells

carbon dioxide from the cells to the lungs
nutrients from the intestines to the cells
waste material from the cells
hormones from the endocrine glands to the cells
heat from various cells


pH (concentration of hydrogen ions)

body temperature
water content in the cells

Blood prevents loss by clotting and combats toxins

As blood is the main transport system to the body, so it may also bring
bacteria to the tissues. The lymphatic system is the protective system that
picks up materials, cleanses them of waste products and toxins, and returns
them to the blood. Although it is described as a separate system, it is really
part of the vascular system, being intertwined with the blood circulation.

The effects of regular exercise on the vascular system:
The supply of blood vessels to the heart will increase thereby lowering
blood pressure and improving the functioning of the heart
Lowers the cholesterol levels in the blood helping to reduce the risk of
arteries "furring up" and possible heart disease
The period needed for the heart rate to return to normal after exercise
is reduced
The network of capillaries in a muscle will increase thereby increasing
the supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the working muscle

This is a microbiological phenomenon first described in 1904 by the Danish
physiologist Christian Bohr: a decrease in blood pH or an increase in blood

CO2 concentration will result in haemoglobin proteins releasing oxygen and a

decrease in carbon dioxide or increase in blood pH will result in haemoglobin
picking up more oxygen.

The following references provide additional information on this topic:
BURNS, N. (2013) Cardiovascular physiology

If you quote information from this page in your work then the reference for
this page is:
MACKENZIE, B. (2001) Physiology - [WWW] Available from:
https://www.brianmac.co.uk/physiolc.htm [Accessed 24/10/2016]

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic:

Articles on Anatomy & Physiology

Books on Physiology
Cardiovascular System
Digestive System
Endocrine System
Energy Pathways
Lactic Acid
Maximum Heart Rate
Muscular System
Neurological System
Respiratory System
Skeletal System
VO2 max

Study Guide to the Systems of the Body provides links to web based
resources on how each part of the body works.

For further information on this topic see the following:
BEASHEL, P. and TAYLOR, J. (1996) Advanced Studies in Physical
Education and Sport. UK: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.
BEASHEL, P. and TAYLOR, J. (1997) The World of Sport Examined. UK:
Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.
BIZLEY, K. (1994) Examining Physical Education. Oxford; Heinemann
Educational Publishers
DAVIS, B. et al. (2000) Physical Education and the Study of Sport. UK:
Harcourt Publishers Ltd.
GALLIGAN, F. et al. (2000) Advanced PE for Edexcel. Oxford;
Heinemann Educational Publishers
McARDLE, W. et al. (2000) Essentials of Exercise Physiology. 2nd ed.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins
TORTORA, G and ANAGNOSTAKOS, N. (1990) Principles of Anatomy and
Physiology. 6th ed. USA; Harper Collins Publishers

STONE, R. and STONE, J. (1997) Atlas of Skeletal Muscles. 2nd Ed.

USA; The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.
BLAKEY, P. (1992) The Muscle Book. UK; Bibiotek Books Ltd.

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