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Heart | Blood Pressure | Heart Disease | Vascular Disease | Arteries & Veins

The cardiovascular system consists of a muscular pump, the heart, in a double circuit of pipes that carry blood from the heart to the lungs and back in one circuit, the pulmonary circulation, and to the rest of the body and back to the heart, the systemic circulation. A coronary system also exists to feed the heart muscle. Vessels that carry blood away from the heart are called arteries, while those that return blood to the heart are veins.

The arterial system to the body begins with large arteries that progressively branch to smaller and smaller vessels to the level of capillaries which then join the smallest vessels of the venous system which progressively converge to form large veins that return blood to the heart. The purpose of this elegant and complex plumbing system is to deliver oxygen and nutrients to peripheral tissues and remove carbon dioxide and wastes and transport them to the excretory organs. Diffuse neurons in the lower brain initiate, inhibit, or modulate appropriate cardiovascular responses to maintain blood flow to the tissues.

The lymphatic vascular system collect excess tissue fluid and return it to the blood vascular system. Lymph capillaries are also important in the absorption of fat in the intestines and in fighting infection throughout the body by the contribution of immunologic factors and lymphocytes.

According to nursing certifications, disease of the cardiovascular system consists of things that compromise the pumping ability of the heart, involve failure of the directional aids (valves), or narrowing or failure of the pipes. The heart and blood vessels are not immune to infectious agents or toxins that can decrease function. Injury or failure of the cardiovascular system, especially the heart, is a critical problem in that peripheral tissues depend on the delivery of nutrients and the removal of wastes through the blood vascular system.

Surgical and pharmacological interventions may restore cardiovascular function. Vessels may be opened by angioplasty or repaired by the use of grafts or stents. Heart valves can be repaired or replaced with artificicial valves or xenografts. Heart function may be aided by pacemakers, drugs or the last resort of transplant. Blood pressure and blood volume can be regulated via various pharmacologic means tailored to the cause of the abberation.

Blood pressure
The Heart
Cardiac Cycle
Heart Attack
Congestive Heart Failure
Varicose Veins
Valve defects

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