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Illustration shows the major human blood vessels. From the heart, blood is pumped into the aorta and distributed to systemic arteries. The carotid arteries bring blood to the head. The brachial arteries bring blood to the arms. The thoracic aorta brings blood down the trunk of the body along the spine. The hepatic, gastric and renal arteries, which branch from the thoracic aorta, bring blood to the liver, stomach and kidneys, respectively. The iliac artery brings blood to the legs. Blood is returned to the heart through two major veins, the superior vena cava at the top, and the inferior vena cava at the bottom. The jugular veins return blood from the head. The basilic veins return blood from the arms.  The hepatic, gastric and renal veins return blood from the liver, stomach and kidneys, respectively. The iliac vein returns blood from the legs.
The major human arteries and veins are shown. (credit: modification of work by Mariana Ruiz Villareal)

Arterioles diverge into capillary beds. Capillary beds contain a large number (10 to 100) of capillaries that branch among the cells and tissues of the body. Capillaries are narrow-diameter tubes that can fit red blood cells through in single file and are the sites for the exchange of nutrients, waste, and oxygen with tissues at the cellular level. Fluid also crosses into the interstitial space from the capillaries. The capillaries converge again into venules that connect to minor veins that finally connect to major veins that take blood high in carbon dioxide back to the heart. Veins are blood vessels that bring blood back to the heart. The major veins drain blood from the same organs and limbs that the major arteries supply. Fluid is also brought back to the heart via the lymphatic system.

The structure of the different types of blood vessels reflects their function or layers. There are three distinct layers, or tunics, that form the walls of blood vessels ( [link] ). The first tunic is a smooth, inner lining of endothelial cells that are in contact with the red blood cells. The endothelial tunic is continuous with the endocardium of the heart. In capillaries, this single layer of cells is the location of diffusion of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the endothelial cells and red blood cells, as well as the exchange site via endocytosis and exocytosis. The movement of materials at the site of capillaries is regulated by vasoconstriction    , narrowing of the blood vessels, and vasodilation    , widening of the blood vessels; this is important in the overall regulation of blood pressure.

Veins and arteries both have two further tunics that surround the endothelium: the middle tunic is composed of smooth muscle and the outermost layer is connective tissue (collagen and elastic fibers). The elastic connective tissue stretches and supports the blood vessels, and the smooth muscle layer helps regulate blood flow by altering vascular resistance through vasoconstriction and vasodilation. The arteries have thicker smooth muscle and connective tissue than the veins to accommodate the higher pressure and speed of freshly pumped blood. The veins are thinner walled as the pressure and rate of flow are much lower. In addition, veins are structurally different than arteries in that veins have valves to prevent the backflow of blood. Because veins have to work against gravity to get blood back to the heart, contraction of skeletal muscle assists with the flow of blood back to the heart.

 Illustrations A and B show that arteries and veins consist of three layers, an inner endothelium called the tunica intima, a middle layer of smooth muscle and elastic fibers called the tunica media, and an outer layer of connective tissues and elastic fibers called the tunica externa. The outer two layers are thinner in the vein than in the artery. The central cavity is called the lumen. Veins have valves that extend into the lumen.
Arteries and veins consist of three layers: an outer tunica externa, a middle tunica media, and an inner tunica intima. Capillaries consist of a single layer of epithelial cells, the tunica intima. (credit: modification of work by NCI, NIH)

Section summary

The heart muscle pumps blood through three divisions of the circulatory system: coronary, pulmonary, and systemic. There is one atrium and one ventricle on the right side and one atrium and one ventricle on the left side. The pumping of the heart is a function of cardiomyocytes, distinctive muscle cells that are striated like skeletal muscle but pump rhythmically and involuntarily like smooth muscle. The internal pacemaker starts at the sinoatrial node, which is located near the wall of the right atrium. Electrical charges pulse from the SA node causing the two atria to contract in unison; then the pulse reaches the atrioventricular node between the right atrium and right ventricle. A pause in the electric signal allows the atria to empty completely into the ventricles before the ventricles pump out the blood. The blood from the heart is carried through the body by a complex network of blood vessels; arteries take blood away from the heart, and veins bring blood back to the heart.

Art connections

[link] Which of the following statements about the circulatory system is false?

  1. Blood in the pulmonary vein is deoxygenated.
  2. Blood in the inferior vena cava is deoxygenated.
  3. Blood in the pulmonary artery is deoxygenated.
  4. Blood in the aorta is oxygenated.

[link] C

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[link] Which of the following statements about the heart is false?

  1. The mitral valve separates the left ventricle from the left atrium.
  2. Blood travels through the bicuspid valve to the left atrium.
  3. Both the aortic and the pulmonary valves are semilunar valves.
  4. The mitral valve is an atrioventricular valve.

[link] B

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Questions & Answers

how are proteins digested?
Trox Reply
how are proteins digested
Kaka
guys what is locomotion?
Misheal Reply
what is anatomy
Mohamed Reply
no idea
Benard
Anatomy is the branch of science that deals with the study of internal and external structures of an organism
Bigenis
Anatomy is the branch of science that deals with the study of the internal structure of an organism
Nana
what is locomotion?
Misheal
no idea
John
Locomotion may simply mean the movement of an organism from one point to another without permanent displacement of the organidm it'self
Bigenis
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Dickens
locomotion as an art student is the ability to move from on place to another
John
muscles that are concerned with locomotion
John
Anatomy deals with the study of internal structures of an organism
Osei
The ability of cells or organisms to move and propel itself from place to place. supplement. locomotion in biology pertains to the various movements of organisms (single-celled or multicellular organisms) to propel themselves from one place to another.
garnhial
Anatomy is the branch of biology concerned with structure of organisms and their parts. Anatomy is a branch of natural science which deals with the structure organization of living things - human anatomy is one of the essential basic sciences that are applied in medicine
garnhial
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What Is The Other Name For Intestinal Juice?
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rick Reply
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prokaryotic and eukaryotic
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prokaryotic cell and eukaryotic cell
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globin
Joelia
Globin
globulins
EZRA
globulins
SASMITA
globulins
Grace
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Emmanuel Reply
Parasitic movement is a problem for all of us. So is its companion, parasitic tension. Parasitic movement is the excess contraction of muscles that you don't actually need to complete an action.
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absorption may simply mean utilization of food in the body
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eukaryotic cells which posses a true nucleus that is the DNA is enclosed and covered by a nuclear membrane
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Lagos
23 haploid and 23diploid
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Aremu
because he/she have feelings
Chripine
reproduction...to make more
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Manish
One important of sex is to reproduce
Emma
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Grace
Sex is an important part of life and overall well-being. in relationship, orgasms play a significant part in bonding physical and emotional benefits like reduced risk of heart disease improved self- esteem, and more can come from having sex. you can still have similar benefits without sex
garnhial
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Asiya Reply
The strength or force that allows something to continue or grow stronger or faster as time pass
Emma
What is Centripetal Force?
Justin
centrepital force is the inward force required to keep a body moving with constant speed in a circular path
Yusuf
a force that acts on a body moving in a circular path and is directed toward the center around which the body is moving
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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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