Heart and Circulation: Nurturing Cardiovascular Wellness Through Natural Strategies

Heart and Circulation: Nurturing Cardiovascular Wellness Through Natural Strategies

The circulatory system is the “continuous flow heater” of our body. It functions optimally when the blood flows unhindered through the entire organism and supplies all vessels with the necessary nutrients. If the circulatory system is put under too much strain over a long period – for example, through smoking or fatty food – the blood supply can be disrupted and even lead to a stroke.

Oxygen-rich blood flows through the pulmonary veins to the heart’s left atrium and into the left ventricle. From there, contractions pump it into the main artery (aorta). Starting from the main artery, the oxygen-rich blood is distributed throughout the body and thus supplies the cells with oxygen. Conversely, the cells release the metabolic waste product carbon dioxide into the blood. The blood enriched in this way reaches the right atrium (atrium dextrum) and the right ventricle (ventriculus dexter) via the venous system. From here, it is pumped by contractions into the pulmonary artery (aorta pulmonalis) and the pulmonary arteries (truncus pulmonalis).

arteries

Arteries are thick, elastic, muscular tubes surrounded by loose connective tissue that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to all body parts. The artery is lined with a smooth layer of cells, allowing blood to flow freely. 

Every heartbeat exerts pressure on the elastic artery wall, which briefly expands and transfers energy. When the pressure drops, the arterial wall releases this energy and contracts to its original strength. This process is called pulse wave or pulse beat and can be felt on superficial arteries – on the wrist or neck.

blood

Blood is the fuel of human life. The liquid red tissue supplies every cell in the body with fuel from food, oxygen, vitamins and hormones as chemical messengers via our veins. On the other hand, the blood also removes waste products and carbon dioxide from the cells. Pathogens are warded off, and wounds are closed. Last but not least, the body temperature has to be constantly regulated: Depending on what is needed, the organism allows more or less blood to flow through the skin.

Around six litres of blood circulate through an adult’s body, around three litres in a child and one litre in a baby. The colour of our “elixir of life” is caused by haemoglobin, which is found in the red blood cells. This, in turn, comprises the pigment heme and the protein component globin. Depending on the oxygen content, the blood is lighter (more oxygen) or darker (less oxygen).

If blood is left to stand in a vessel for a while, three layers form blood plasma, white and red blood cells.

The blood plasma, which consists of 93 per cent water, settles at the top of the vessel. It makes up just over half (55 per cent) of blood. Blood plasma is an aqueous solution of minerals, nutrients, proteins, and hormones. It serves as a means of transport for these substances, released from the organs into the blood as products of cell metabolism or intended for absorption into the body’s cells.

In the middle layer, the white blood cells ( leukocytes ) collect, which only comprise about one per cent of the total blood volume and have a defensive function. They destroy invaders such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites by producing antibodies to fight them.

The bottom layer comprises red blood cells and erythrocytes, which comprise 44 per cent of the blood. They carry the inhaled oxygen to the tissues and bring the carbon dioxide back to the lungs, where it is exhaled. A red blood cell makes around 300,000 journeys through the body in 120 days before it dies and is replaced.

blood vessels

The blood supply to the body occurs via a widely ramified system of large and millimetre-small vessels. 

The large blood vessels include the arteries and veins. They carry blood to and from the heart. 

The names “artery” and “vein”, therefore, only indicate the flow direction of the blood and do not indicate different tissue substances. 

Arterial blood means oxygenated blood, while venous blood means deoxygenated.

Blood groups

Blood groups are divided into four main groups: A, B, AB and 0, based on the properties of the red blood cells. The letters stand for substances on the surface of the red blood cells ( erythrocytes ). These have two antigens that trigger clumping: A agglutinogens and B agglutinogens. They can have antigens A or B (AB) and neither (0). Most people – about 46 per cent of the world’s population – have blood group O.

The blood plasma contains antibodies (protein molecules) directed against antigens of other red blood cells, but not against your own. For example, plasma from people with blood group A contains anti-B agglutinins; conversely, plasma from people with blood group B contains anti-A agglutinins. Blood group AB contains neither, and blood group O contains anti-AB agglutinins.

If the blood of different groups is mixed, clumping can occur and, in the case of a blood transfusion, can be fatal for the patient. Therefore, the blood groups must be checked carefully before each transmission.

platelets

A litre of blood contains around 250 million platelets (thrombocytes), the most minor solid components of the liquid. They are made in the bone marrow and protect the body from infection from open wounds by sticking together to form a crust over the wounded area. 

A platelet is only a thousandth of a millimetre and is the smallest cell in the body. Suppose there is an open wound in any part of the body. In that case, there are immediately enough blood platelets to close the defective vessel wall permanently, together with 13 other blood coagulation factors.

In addition, the active ingredient thromboplastin is released from the injured tissue. It converts the plasma protein fibrinogen in the blood into fibrin threads surrounding the red blood cells ( erythrocytes ) on the spot. More blood cells and platelets are stored in the resulting network until a solid plug is formed.

Herz

The heart, an involuntary hollow muscle, is about the size of a fist, shaped like a pear and weighs around 300 grams. Two-thirds of the oblique muscle protrudes into the left chest cavity and one-third into the right. A septum separates the heart into two halves. 

The right half contains the venous, oxygen-poor blood, while the left contains the oxygen-rich, arterial blood. Each of the two halves is divided into an atrium and a ventricle. The heart’s four chambers have muscular walls that pump blood in a rhythmic alternation of contraction (systole) and relaxation (diastole).

The walls of the left ventricle are thicker than those of the right because of the higher demands. The heart valves have a back pressure function so that the blood flow can only flow in one direction, from top to bottom.

The heart pumps blood through our body so that it can supply it with all the essential substances. In the bloodstream, oxygen is carried from the lungs throughout the body, and conversely, the end product, carbon dioxide, travels back to the lungs to be exhaled. When the body is at rest, the human heart beats about 70 times a minute and 100,000 times a day. When the body is active, the number of strokes is much higher so that the working muscles can be supplied with sufficient blood.

Blood makes up about 8 per cent of body weight. A person weighing 75 kilograms has about six litres of blood. When the body is at rest, the heart ejects 0.07 litres of blood with one beat – 7200 litres in one day. With more significant stress, the heart activity increases so much that 40 to 50 litres can be ejected in one minute. The natural “pacemaker” that determines the beat rate is called the sinus node: a structure made of heart muscle cells with actin and myosin filaments, which generates and transmits 60-100 stimuli per minute at rest.

Like all muscles, the heart can be exercised through regular body movement, extending the human lifespan.

heart valves

The heart valves consist of thin, stable layers of connective tissue that are pocket-shaped (aortic valve and pulmonary valve) or leaf-shaped (mitral valve and tricuspid valve). When the valves between the atria and ventricles open, the pulmonary and aortic valves close and vice versa. 

The four heart valves are: 

Mitral valve – between the atrium and left ventricle 

Aortic valve – between left ventricle and aorta 

Tricuspid valve – between atrium and right ventricle 

Pulmonary valve – between right ventricle and pulmonary artery

capillary

Capillaries, also called capillaries, are the minor blood transport routes; each has a diameter of only seven to ten thousandths of a millimetre. Capillaries consist of a tubular layer of cells. This is thin enough to allow an exchange of substances between blood and tissue. Oxygen passes from the red blood cells through the capillary walls; conversely, carbon dioxide and waste products escape outside.

Skin capillaries are essential in regulating body temperature. As it rises, the blood flow to the skin increases, allowing the blood to cool on the body’s surface.

If the sensitive capillaries are injured, blood gets into the tissue, and a bruise occurs. Cold and pressure bandages are best suited for treatment in the acute stage. The haemoglobin in this leaked blood turns blue because the tissues deprive it of oxygen. If the bruise later turns green and yellow, this is due to bilirubin, a breakdown product of haemoglobin. This colouring announces the renewal of the injured capillaries.

Red blood cells

Red blood cells (erythrocytes) are formed from the bone marrow of all bones until age twenty. In old age, it is mainly the ribs, the bones of the spine and the pelvis that form the blood cells. The red blood cells have a lifespan of about four months but are constantly renewed. They need sufficient iron, vitamin B12, folic acid and protein for this.

Oxygen combines with haemoglobin in the pulmonary capillaries. The oxygen-enriched blood cells travel with the bloodstream from the lungs to the heart and from there to the systemic circulation to the individual cells. Here, they release the oxygen and, with the help of a particular enzyme, absorb the carbon dioxide produced during energy metabolism. They carry it back to the heart via the veins and into the pulmonary circulation. There, carbon dioxide is given off again, and oxygen is taken up.

Human bone marrow produces millions of red blood cells per second, along with white blood cells and platelets, which clot to close open wounds.

They come

The veins complement the arteries in their function. These are also tubes made of muscle and connective tissue but with a much thinner layer of muscle cells and a larger inner diameter. 

The veins transport the used, oxygen-poor and waste-carrying blood back to the heart. For this transport in the opposite direction of gravity, the large veins are equipped with valves that prevent blood backflow to the body’s periphery. 

Waste disposal and the supply of nutrients occurs via the capillaries, tiny vessels representing the connection between the bloodstream and cells.

White blood cells

In contrast to the red blood cells, white blood cells do not represent a uniform cell population but can be broken down into primary subgroups whose percentages of the total number in a healthy person vary only within certain limits. The number of leukocytes in one cubic millimetre of blood is 5,000 to 8,000 in a healthy organism. White blood cells are more significant than red ones but in smaller numbers.

White blood cells – colourless and not white – protect the body from external attacks. They are divided into three main groups according to their shape and function: granulocytes, lymphocytes and monocytes.

Granulocytes form up to 75 per cent of white blood cells (leukocytes). These “phagocytes” attack foreign bodies that have penetrated the body and render them harmless. The visible result of their activity is the pus, which consists of destroyed pathogens, cell components and leukocytes.

Some granulocytes release substances that inhibit blood clotting and thus prevent the formation of clots in blood vessels. Otherwise, a dangerous lump would form, blocking the flow of blood.

The lymphocytes are also an essential part of the immune system. They form antibodies that immunize humans against specific pathogens. In addition, the lymphocytes synthesize chemical substances that prevent pathogens from invading the body. In adolescents, the lymphocytes develop in the bone marrow (medulla ossium). Later, the thymus gland (thymus), the spleen (lien), the tonsils (tonsillae) and the lymph nodes take over this task.

Monocytes are defence cells that absorb pathogens and foreign substances in their own cell body and destroy them there. Like granulocytes, they are formed in the bone marrow.

 

 

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