The Cardiovascular System

What are my objectives while studying this topic?

The heart is the central organ within the circulatory system. You will study the structure of the heart and the specialized cells that make up the tissues forming the heart. This will help you understand the function of the heart within the cardiac cycle. You will also study the composition of the blood and how its content is maintained in the circulatory system.

Cardiovascular system 1

Why is this important?

Fitness and healthcare professionals measure and monitor heart function and the control of the blood flowing to and from the rest of the body by taking physiological measurements. These measurements assist professionals improve the well being and performance of an individual’s circulatory system as well as diagnosing cardiovascular diseases.

Can I get an introduction to this topic?

Yes, why not have a look at the following link:

Useful questions to ask:

1. How is the blood transported around the body?

2. What are the differences between arteries and veins?

3. How does the exchange of oxygen and nutrients take place between the capillaries and the cells of the body?

What will I be expected to be able to do after studying this topic?

You’ll be expected to:

  • Explain what is meant by mass flow

  • Know the structure and explain the function of blood vessels

What are the key words to learn and use for this topic?

  • Mass flow

  • Arteries

  • Arterioles

  • Capillaries

  • Venules

  • Veins

  • Vasodilation

  • Vasoconstriction

  • Pulmonary circulation

  • Systemic circulation

How long will this topic take to study?

On average you’ll be looking at about two to three hours of taught time and independent study.

What are the main activities on this topic?


Spagetti Junction and the cardiovascular system

Can you make the links between the two images using six explanatory sentences (see Can of worms exemplar).

In class look at a dissection of artery and vein to compare the features. This link might help you:

Whole body animations of blood flow

Discussion points to note are:

  • Large vessels have three main layers in the walls: tough collagen, elastic muscular layer to sustain pressure and endothelium which is smooth to reduce friction

  • Capillary walls are one cell thick

  • Veins have thinner muscle layer than arteries and along their length are semi-lunar valves to ensure flow in one direction

  • Arteries have thick walls to resist pressure and control heart beat into continuous pressure

  • Arterioles adjust diameter to adjust blood supply

  • Capillaries are small so restrict blood flow, velocity slows in order that exchange may take place via tissue fluid. Thin capillary walls enhance this exchange along with the large cross-sectional area.

  • Venules/veins have larger diameters and thinner walls than arterioles/arteries as the pressure and flow is reduced; valves prevent back flow

Revision Notes:

Take a look at the following link; you can get some good notes for revision of theory.

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