Fun Facts That May Surprise You About Our Amazing Circulatory System
We only need to look at one small section of the human anatomy to be reminded of nature’s absolute magnificence and complexity. For example, the fact that as newborns we have about 300 bones that eventually fuse together, or the fact that our skin is essential in the production of Vitamin D which is necessary for many of the body’s essential functions, or perhaps the fact that a myriad of processes have to align in order for life to grow successfully inside the womb, or the very real (though rare) broken heart syndrome where a person can actually die of a “broken heart.”
Down the cellular level, our bodies are always at work. Here at El Paso Varicose Veins Laser Clinic, we specialize in the intricate network of blood carrying vessels that run throughout our bodies. So to look at the bigger picture, we think a lot about circulation and the circulatory system and all of the things and processes that it involves. But what exactly is your circulatory system? What does it mean to say you have “poor circulation”? Let’s take a closer look.
The circulatory system or cardiovascular system consists of three systems that work together: the heart (cardiovascular system), lungs (pulmonary), and the arteries, veins, coronary, and portal vessels. The entire system is responsible for the flow of blood, nutrients, and hormones to cells. It ensures that your body’s organs receive a healthy blood supply.
A Good Look at Your Heart — The Organ in Charge of Blood
It’s important to note that blood is not just a liquid that flows through our bodies. It is also classified as a tissue, though we often think about it as mere fluid splashing around our vessels or the stuff that oozes out as we unintentionally cut our fingers while slicing vegetables. It is composed of similarly specialized cells that live within the liquid matrix called plasma. If blood ceases to flow, life cannot be sustained for much longer after that because tissues are devoid of oxygen and simply cannot persist.
Another major player in the circulatory system is, of course, the heart. And there are some amazing fun facts about this organ that we can list—like how it can continue beating outside the body or how heart attacks peak around Christmas time—but the most amazing thing about this gooey mass of muscle and veins and arteries is the job that it performs every day by keeping you alive and ensuring that every inch of your body receives the oxygenated blood that it needs to function and stay healthy. (Another fun fact: the corneas are the only part of the body that doesn’t have a blood supply and gets its oxygen directly from the air!) Over a lifetime, the heart muscle does more physical work than any other muscle.
A Quick Overview of the Amazing Heart
The heart is made up of four chambers: there are two upper chambers known as the left atrium and the right atrium. The two lower chambers are called the left and right ventricles. The heart also has several valves that play an important role in its function. Basically, non-oxygenated blood runs into the heart and is pumped through the right ventricle, then the blood goes through the pulmonary valve and the lungs where it becomes oxygenated. The left atrium then receives this newly oxygenated blood and sends it over to the left ventricle who then pumps oxygen-rich blood through the aortic valve to the aorta and the rest of the body.
It’s pretty amazing! All of the steps that need to happen in order for the heart to send oxygen-filled blood through your body. Keep in mind, the heart beats at least 100,000 times a day. So each time it does this, there is blood going in one side, through the lungs, and out the other. And every time it goes and does its full-body round, that oxygenated blood is carrying important stuff (nutrients, hormones) and delivering it to its proper addresses and picking up waste. Think of it as the mailman that delivers daily mail, emergency packages, birthday presents, but also carries out your trash, takes out the recycling, sweeps the driveway, and brings you an ice cream cone.
Ok, not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea.
Your circulatory system also consists of a good amount of blood vessels. There’s a lot of teamwork that goes on between these. The vessels serve an important function and, as their name suggests, they serve as carriers for blood. Arteries are a type of blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to the body. Veins carry blood low in oxygen from the body back to the heart.
So What Does All This Have to Do With Varicose Veins?
Well, it’s part of the bigger picture of the circulation of blood. Veins play a role in circulation and in the return of this blood to the heart. Varicose veins develop when some of these veins begin to malfunction. After all, the veins are part of the circulatory system, but having varicose veins doesn’t necessarily indicate there is any problem with the heart. If a person, however, suffers from heart disease and varicose veins simultaneously, this might lead to a greater risk of complications from the varicose veins.
The above is only scratching the surface of the anatomical complexity and function of the circulatory system. It’s always fun to revisit some of the wonders nature put in place in our very own human machines.
Here at EP Varicose Veins, we spend a lot of time talking to people about the importance of circulation and have top-of-the-line care for your veins. It is a major part of your health, so if your circulation is working poorly, it might affect other areas. There are things you can do to keep circulation flowing and ensure your blood is flowing through. We talk about some of these in previous blog posts.
The above is not medical advice or meant to serve as a way to diagnose any condition. Always speak to your physician and vein specialists for more information on how to treat varicose veins.