The circulatory system is made up of a network of vessels and organs, including the heart, lungs, veins, arteries, and capillaries. Each part of the system works together to help blood pump through the body and reach other tissue and vital organs. In a healthy circulatory system, all the parts work together in a smooth, endless circuit.
A healthy circulatory system is essential to survival, as every part of the body requires oxygen-rich blood in order to thrive. When blood fails to reach a certain organ or appendage, the tissue in that region stops working and dies. On the outside of the body, such as the hands or feet, the dead tissue may need to be removed through amputation. When it occurs in a vital organ, the patient will either need an organ transplant or will need to remain on certain machines that can perform the tasks of that organ.
The heart is the primary driving force behind the circulatory system. All the blood in the body passes through the four chambers of the heart, and the organ’s pumping action allows the fluid to reach the rest of the body. When all the parts are working correctly, blood flows into the right side of the heart and moves through the pulmonary arteries to the lungs where it receives more oxygen. It then reenters the heart in the left ventricle so it can be pumped out through the arteries.
Although the lungs are the stars of the respiratory system, they also play a large role in a healthy circulatory system. As blood from the heart travels throughout the body, it leaves the majority of its oxygen with the tissues and organs through which it passes. Before it can be sent back out through the heart, it must pass through the lungs and pick up more oxygen. If the lungs are not healthy, the oxygen supply in the blood is decreased, which can lead to multiple problems throughout the body.
The arteries, veins, and capillaries make up a massive network that runs throughout the entire body. The arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the tissues, and the veins carry it back into the heart to be recycled. The exchange between the two happens in the capillaries. One easy way to remember the difference between veins and arteries is to note that the word “vein” contains the word “in,” and they go into the heart. In a healthy circulatory system, both the veins and arteries are wide open, allowing blood to flow freely through the entire network.
Maintaining a healthy circulatory system can take work. It typically involves maintaining a healthy diet with a minimal amount of fat, exercising regularly to keep the heart in shape, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco, or other substances that can damage the structures of the system. Those with circulatory conditions can often live a full life by following their doctor’s recommendations carefully.