Your cardiovascular system is a marvel of complexity and efficiency. Your heart is only about the size of a closed fist, but pumps 5 liters of blood per minute through approximately 60,000 miles of arteries, veins, and smaller blood vessels. These vessels convey oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to every region of the body, and then carry deoxygenated blood and cellular waste products back to the heart and lungs again. All of this comprises what Florida vein specialists call your circulatory system.
How a healthy circulatory system works
Unsurprisingly, the heart of your circulatory system is your heart. It has to work 24 hours a day for your entire life to pump blood through two primary circulatory loops:
- The systemic circulation loop transports highly oxygenated blood from the left side of the heart to all of your organs and tissues (except the heart and lungs). On its return, systemic circulation removes waste materials from body tissues and returns deoxygenated blood to the right side of the heart. The left atrium and left ventricle of the heart power this systemic circulation loop.
- The pulmonary circulation loop transports deoxygenated blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs, where the blood is charged with oxygen again and returned to the left side of the heart. The right atrium and right ventricle power this circulation loop.
Blood vessels are the “highways” that allow this circulation to take place. Their size and type depends on the area of the body they convey blood to or from. There are three main types of blood vessels:
- Arteries and arterioles convey blood away from the heart. They have high levels of blood pressure because they are carrying blood pushed by the heart muscle, so the walls of arteries are thicker, more elastic, and more muscular than other vessels. The walls of arteries contain muscles that contract to help blood flow through them from the heart to other areas. Arterioles are smaller vessels that branch off from the ends of arteries.
- Capillaries are the smallest and thinnest of blood vessels, and the most common. They connect to arterioles and convey blood to most of the body’s tissues before connecting to venules for the “return trip” to the heart.
- Veins and venules are the “return” vessels that carry deoxygenated blood and waste materials back to the right side of the heart. Unlike arteries, the walls of veins are thin and do not contain muscles to pump blood, so venous blood flow depends on gravity, inertia, and the contraction of skeletal muscles to push blood back to the heart. Veins contain tiny, one-way valves that open in response to muscle contractions to pump blood picked up from the capillaries to the heart, and then close again until the next contraction.
All of this is supported by two other types of circulation. Coronary circulation takes place over a set of specialized blood vessels that keep the heart itself supplied with sufficient oxygen and nutrients to pump blood. Hepatic portal circulation conveys blood to the liver, which removes toxins, stores sugars, and processes the products of digestion before they reach the rest of the body.
This all sounds complex – what kinds of things can go wrong with it?
There are an enormous number and type of disorders that can afflict the heart, arteries, and veins, too many to be covered in an article this short. Being able to detect and diagnose these disorders is what enables the doctors from South Palm Cardiovascular Associates to be considered some of the best cardiologists in Palm Beach and some of the best vein doctors in Florida. If you are interested in learning more about the incredible range of disorders that these doctors treat, please spend some time looking over the many informative articles on our website at http://www.southpalmcardiovascular.com/. To seek heart or vein treatment in Palm Beach, give us a call at 561-515-0080 to schedule an initial consultation.