Exploring the Human Bloodstream: Anatomy, Functions, and Circulatory System

Exploring the Human Bloodstream: Anatomy, Functions, and Circulatory System

The bloodstream reaches almost every corner of the body, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the cells. Find out here why bottlenecks sometimes occur and what helps blood circulation.

The circulatory system is both a supply and disposal system for humans: it transports oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and organs and removes waste products from the metabolism. At the same time, it is involved in regulating the acid-base balance and body temperature and bringing immune cells to where they are needed to fight pathogens.

The best way to compare the circulatory system is with a complex system of tubes that keeps branching out and finally reunites to form a closed circuit. In an adult human, this vascular system is more than 100,000 kilometres long and would go around the equator more than twice.

The heart

As the driving force, the heart ensures that the bloodstream is always moving. With more than 100,000 beats daily, the fist-sized muscle pumps the oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood through the arteries from its left ventricle. This is done with high pressure to reach every corner of the body. In the organs, the blood vessels branch into a network of fragile vessels called capillaries. Oxygen and nutrients get from the blood into the tissues, mainly in this part of the bloodstream, while waste products from cell metabolism are absorbed.

The blood is not evenly distributed in the body but is always adapted to the current needs of the individual organs. For example, during sports or heavy physical work, the capillary blood flow in the affected muscles can increase by 20 to 50. The oxygen- and nutrient-poor blood finally flows from the capillaries into the veins and back into the right ventricle. Because the flow speed in the veins has already decreased considerably, small valves ensure that the blood flow always flows in the direction of the heart and that the blood does not accumulate.

The blood then travels from the right ventricle to the lungs. Here, the red blood cells release the carbon dioxide from the cell metabolism and absorb oxygen. Then, it reaches the left ventricle again and is pumped through the arteries to the organs. The red lifeblood covers around 270,000 kilometres on this path in a day.

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