At Home Christian Jessen 2014 - 58

| CIRCULATION|

All systems GO
Keeping your body's blood, oxygen, hormones and nutrients flowing,
your vast circulatory network of organs and vessels is fascinating...

The combined length of your
arteries, veins and capillaries
is about 60,000 miles long,
and could wrap around the earth's
circumference approximately
two-and-a-half times!

2

Unlike white blood cells
and most other cells in
the body, red blood cells have
no nuclei. This means they have
more space for haemoglobin,
which binds to oxygen and carries
it around the body. However,
red blood cells cannot divide or
synthesise new cellular components.
They die after about 120 days and
are replaced by brand new ones
made in the bone marrow.

PUMPED UP

Your arteries carry
oxygenated blood under
high pressure from the heart. Veins
carry de-oxygenated blood from the
heart under low pressure, which
means they rely on the pumping
action of contracting muscles to
return blood back to the heart.
Without this muscular action, blood
would pool in the lower extremities.

3

8

ON THE MOVE

5

9

ON E B Y O N E

Red blood cells travel in
single file, as they are
only slightly smaller than the
capillaries they travel through
- a microscopic eight microns
or 1/3,000 of an inch!

TH E R I G H T PAC E

An average adult's resting
heart rate is about 75 beats
per minute. As with other animals,
your heart rate is linked to your
size - the bigger you are, the
slower your resting heart rate.
A blue whale's heart, which is the
size of a small car, only beats five
times a minute!

058 | JULY 2014

HEART BREAK?

A condition called 'broken
heart syndrome', or 'stress
cardiomyopathy', is where your
heart muscle (the myocardium)
suffers from a sudden, temporary
weakening. The symptoms are
similar to those brought on by a
heart attack and can be triggered
by an emotionally stressful event,
such as the death or physical
separation of a loved one.

About 2,000 gallons of
blood travel through your
arteries, veins and capillaries daily,
delivering oxygen, essential
nutrients and hormones to every
cell in your body, and removing
waste products made by those
cells. Your cardiovascular system
is vital for fighting disease and
maintaining stability.

4

CEL L L I F E

6

BLO OD L I NES

It wasn't until the second
century that the two types of
blood, venous and arterial, and their
functions were recognised by Greek
physician and philosopher, Galen of
Pergamon. He also introduced the
idea that blood was distributed in
two, one-way systems and that the
heart was not a pumping organ but
used a sucking motion. Since the
1600s, a correct description of blood
circulation was revealed by English
physician, William Henry.

WRONG
DIRECTION

Around three-in-10
adults develop varicose veins at
some point in their lives. This is
caused when the walls of a vein
stretch, weakening one or more
of the valves. Instead of only
allowing blood to travel in one
direction, they then incorrectly
let blood flow backwards, which
collects in the valve and causes
it to swell.

10

B L UE B L OO D

Although your veins
appear blue through
your skin, this is just an illusion
caused by the way a wavelength
of light penetrates your skin and
reflects back to your eyes. Your
blood is only ever red, even if
you are royalty!

WORDS: ROSIE ORGLES | ILLUSTRATION: SHUTTERSTOCK

1

7

SO LON G



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