The cardiovascular system is one of the most important processes in the body. Also referred to as the circulatory system or vascular system, the cardiovascular system is an essential component of maintaining homeostasis, a state of balance among systems of the body, by circulating blood. When it comes to understanding your heart health, it’s important to be familiar with the parts of the cardiovascular system and how the system works.
What Does the Cardiovascular System Do?
The cardiovascular system is the transport system of the body, responsible for circulating oxygen and transporting nutrients throughout the body. In addition to providing oxygen and nutrients, blood also helps cleanse the body by collecting waste products like carbon dioxide. The continuous, controlled circulation of the blood the cardiovascular system provides is what maintains homeostasis. With oxygen provided and waste removed, the body can perform its normal functions.
Parts of the Cardiovascular System
While there are numerous mechanisms and processes that help regulate and promote the circulation of blood, there are three main parts of the cardiovascular system.
Blood is the fluid that carries the oxygen and nutrients vital to the function of the body, as well as the waste that needs to be removed. Without blood, the human body could not function. Blood flows between the heart and the rest of the body, with red blood cells providing oxygen and white blood cells fighting foreign invaders. In the cycle of blood flow, the lungs provide the oxygen that the blood delivers to the rest of the body.
2. Blood Vessels
Another essential part of the cardiovascular system is the blood vessels, which are tubes that transport blood throughout the body. There are so many blood vessels in the body that if you laid the average adult’s out in a line, the line would be close to 100,000 miles long.
Based on their function, blood vessels are classified as either arteries, veins, or capillaries. Arteries carry blood from the heart to the body, and veins carry blood from the body to the heart. Capillaries are extremely narrow, microscopic blood vessels that connect arteries and veins.
The heart acts as the pump that makes the circulation of blood – and the oxygen and nutrients blood carries – to all tissues of the body possible. If the heart stops pumping for even a few minutes, it cannot deliver blood to the rest of the body, putting the individual’s life in danger.
In terms of structure, the heart has two sides and is divided into four chambers: the left atrium, the right atrium, the left ventricle, and the right ventricle. The thin-walled atria receive blood from the veins, and the thick-walled ventricles pump blood out of the heart. On the left and right sides of the heart, the atrium and ventricle work together to pump blood through and out of the heart.
Both sides of the heart work simultaneously to promote blood flow. On the left, blood flows from the lungs to the atrium and then the ventricle, which pumps it into the rest of the body. On the right side, blood flows from the rest of the body into the atrium, then the ventricle, which pumps the blood into the lungs.
Valves between the chambers of the heart ensure blood flows in the correct direction. Veins also contain valves to maintain blood flow into the heart. Arteries don’t need valves, as the pressure of blood flow from the heart is enough to keep blood flowing in the correct direction.
How Can I Promote My Cardiovascular Health?
Cardiovascular health is dependent upon all parts of the cardiovascular system working properly. There are many ways to improve your heart health and work to promote strong, efficient blood flow throughout the body. Even simple lifestyle changes can help prevent cardiological issues. Getting regular exercise, including aerobic exercise and resistance training, eating a heart-healthy diet, and managing stress are just a few of the steps you can take to a healthier heart.
Dr. Farhan Majeed of Pulse: The Heart, Valve, and Vascular Institute specializes in diagnosing and treating common cardiovascular conditions and offers a wide range of services to promote cardiovascular health. Interested in learning more about your cardiovascular health? Schedule an appointment or call (941) 629-211 for more information.