Role of the Cardiovascular System

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The cardiovascular system is responsible for the distribution of blood in your body. There are 2 types of blood circulation pathways that works independently: pulmonary and systemic. The pulmonary circulation is the highway of blood flowing towards your lungs; the systemic circulation is the pathway of blood towards other parts of your body. Through these circulation paths the cardiovascular system performs vital roles such as homeostasis regulation, protection and waste product removal.

Definition

  • The cardiovascular system, also known as the circulatory system, consists of your heart, blood and blood vessels.

    Your heart acts as a pumping organ that forces your blood to flow; blood is the transport medium that carries oxygen, nutrients and waste products and your blood vessels act as pipes that connect your heart to other parts of your body.

Homeostasis Regulation

  • The cardiovascular system promotes balance to your body or homeostasis. For example, the cardiovascular system regulates body temperature by removing excess heat through sweat when the body is too hot or by diverting more blood to vital organs and away from extremities when the body is cold.

    Moreover, the cardiovascular system monitors your body pH and water equilibrium. The critical role of the cardiovascular system in regulating homeostasis, according to the National Cancer Institute, "depends on the continuous and controlled movement of blood ... in the body."

Oxygen and Nutrient Distribution

  • The cardiovascular system distributes oxygen and nutrients to different parts of your body via the heart's pumping mechanism, which facilitates 'oxygen-poor' blood to flow towards your lungs. Subsequently, the lungs filter the blood, making it 'oxygen-rich'. Upon exiting the lungs, the filtered blood, nutrients and hormones are transported to other parts of your body via the arteries.

    The arteries are large blood vessels that branch out into increasingly smaller vessels extending throughout the entire body and down to the cellular level where they become capillaries. It is at the capillary level that cells get oxygen and nourishment.

Removal of Waste Materials

  • In exchange for oxygen-rich blood, nutrients and hormones, your body cells give off waste materials including carbon dioxide, urea and excess water.

    These waste materials are transported via the cardiovascular system, specifically through your veins, to the excretory organs for elimination. For example, your body releases excess water when you perspire.

Protection

  • The white blood cells present in your blood protect your body against infections and foreign bodies. Also present in the blood are antibodies, which are protein molecules produced by your cells to deactivate the deleterious actions of antigens.

    Antigens are substances that your body detects as 'foreign' such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and chemicals. Finally, the platelets, another blood component, aid in the clotting process to stop your cells from bleeding, for instance, when you have an open wound.

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