Home HEALTH Circulatory system: Facts, function, diseases

Circulatory system: Facts, function, diseases

THE circulatory system is a vast network of organs and vessels that is responsible for the flow of blood, nutrients, hormones, oxygen and other gases to and from cells. Without the circulatory system, the body would not be able to fight disease or maintain a stable internal environment — such as proper temperature and pH — known as homeostasis.
While many view the circulatory system, also known as the cardiovascular system, as simply a highway for blood, it is made up of three independent systems that work together: the heart (cardiovascular); lungs (pulmonary); and arteries, veins, coronary and portal vessels (systemic), according to the U.S National Library of Medicine (NLM).
In the average human, about 2,000 gallons (7,572 liters) of blood travel daily through about 60,000 miles (96,560 kilometers) of blood vessels, according to the Arkansas Heart Hospital. An average adult has 5 to 6 quarts (4.7 to 5.6 liters) of blood, which is made up of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. In addition to blood, the circulatory system moves lymph, which is a clear fluid that helps rid the body of unwanted material.
The heart, blood, and blood vessels make up the cardiovascular component of the circulatory system. It includes the pulmonary circulation, a “loop” through the lungs where blood is oxygenated. It also incorporates the systemic circulation, which runs through the rest of the body to provide oxygenated blood, according to NLM.
The pulmonary circulatory system sends oxygen-depleted blood away from the heart through the pulmonary artery to the lungs and returns oxygenated blood to the heart through the pulmonary veins, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Oxygen-deprived blood enters the right atrium of the heart and flows through the tricuspid valve (right atrioventricular valve) into the right ventricle. From there it is pumped through the pulmonary semilunar valve into the pulmonary artery on its way to the lungs. When it gets to the lungs, carbon dioxide is re-leased from the blood and oxygen is absorbed. The pulmonary vein sends the oxygen-rich blood back to the heart, according to NLM.
The systemic circulation is the portion of the circulatory system is the network of veins, arteries and blood vessels that transports blood from the heart, ser-vices the body’s cells and then re-enters the heart, the Mayo Clinic noted.