The Cardiovascular System The Transportation of Blood through the Body

Editor's Note: When you see these three dots surrounded by a gray rectangle — 1 — you can click on it to get further information about the topic. Click a second time, and the message goes away.

The Definition

The cardiovascular system consists of:

This remarkably efficient system transports oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and waste products throughout the body. As it works tirelessly for us, it not only provides nourishment but it also helps to fight diseases.

The heart is the body’s hardest-working organ. About the size of a fist, it tirelessly pumps blood through your body every single minute.

There are actually two circulation loops:

The Sum of its Parts

While the heart is the centre of the cardiovascular system, it cannot do its work without the other parts of the system.

Arteries carry oxygen to the body. They begin at the aorta, a large artery near the heart, and then branch into arteries throughout the body.

Veins carry waste material back to the heart. There are two major veins: the superior vena cava (draining areas above the heart) and the inferior vena cava (taking from areas below the heart). Both veins empty into the right atrium. You can see these two major veins on the diagram below.

Capillaries assist in the final exchange. They are very small blood vessels that create a network between the arterioles and venules. 2

The heart pumps oxygenated blood to the body and deoxygenated blood to the lungs. There is one atrium and one ventricle for each circulation, and with both circulation loops there are four chambers in total: left atrium, left ventricle, right atrium and right ventricle.

Path of Blood as it Travels

Thanks to this site for this beautiful diagram.( Please contact me if you do not wish me to use this.)

So let's put this all in perspective. The movement of blood is a loop, so we can start anywhere on that loop and describe where the blood goes. Here it is:

Cardiovascular Diseases

Many cardiovascular diseases are related to a person's lifestyle choices, including exercise routines, dietary, and choosing to smoke or not to smoke. There are also some congenital and genetic conditions over which we have little control.

Here are some of the most common diseases that occur in the cardiovascular system:

Taking Care of your Cardiovascular System

The benefits of exercise in preventing heart disease are well-researched. My article, Exercise and Heart Disease, discusses how exercise will help to keep your heart and the cardiovascular system healthy. Click on the link to read the entire article.

The following points come from an article on LiveStrong.com 5:

Eating healthy and exercising often will help to keep your cardiovascular system working well.

See also:

I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.

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  1. These three dots behave exactly like a footnote. Click on them and you will get more information about the topic. 

  2. An arteriole is a small diameter blood vessel that branches out from an artery and leads to capillaries. A venule is a very small vein, which collects blood from the capillaries. 

  3. Enlargement of an artery caused by a weakening of the wall. 

  4. Sometimes called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (or SCAD). 

  5. Link to the full article