ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY Chronic Kidney Disease Cardiovascular System The cardiovascular system is sometimes called the circulatory system. It consists of the heart, which is a muscular pumping device, and a closed system of vessels called arteries, veins, and capillaries. As the name implies, blood contained in the circulatory system is pumped by the heart around a closed circuit of vessels as it passes again and again through the various “circulations” of the body. The Heart * The heart is enclosed by a sac known as the pericardium. There are three layers of tissues that form the heart wall. The outer layer of the heart wall is the epicardium, the middle layer is the myocardium, and the inner layer is the endocardium. The internal cavity of the heart is divided into four chambers: * Right atrium * Right ventricle * Left atrium * Left ventricle * The two atria are thin-walled chambers that receive blood from the veins. The two ventricles are thick-walled chambers that forcefully pump blood out of the heart. Differences in thickness of the heart chamber walls are due to variations in the amount of myocardium present, which reflects the amount of force each chamber is required to generate. The right atrium receives deoxygenated blood from systemic veins; the left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the pulmonary veins. Valves of the Heart Pumps need a set of valves to keep the fluid flowing in one direction and the heart is no exception. The heart has two types of valves that keep the blood flowing in the correct direction. The valves between the atria and ventricles are called atrioventricular valves (also called cuspid valves), while those at the bases of the large vessels leaving the ventricles are called semilunar valves. The right atrioventricular valve is the tricuspid valve. The left atrioventricular valve is the bicuspid, or mitral, valve. The valve between the right ventricle and pulmonary trunk is the pulmonary semilunar valve. The valve between the left ventricle and the aorta is the aortic semilunar valve. When the ventricles contract, atrioventricular valves close to prevent blood from flowing back into the atria. When the ventricles relax, semilunar valves close to prevent blood from flowing back into the ventricles. Pathway of Blood through the Heart While it is convenient to describe the flow of blood through the right side of the heart and then through the left side, it is important to realize that both atria contract at the same time and both ventricles contract at the same time. The heart works as two pumps, one on the right and one on the left, working simultaneously. Blood flows from the right atrium to the right ventricle, and then is pumped to the lungs to receive oxygen. From the lungs, the blood flows to the left atrium, then to the left ventricle. From there it is pumped to the systemic circulation. Blood Supply to the Myocardium The myocardium of the heart wall is a working muscle that needs a continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients to function with efficiency.
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