The human circulatory system is a wonder. Start with the heart – an organ only about the size of your closed fist, but which manages to pump 5 liters of blood per minute through 60,000 miles of arteries, veins, and smaller blood vessels.
How a healthy circulatory system works
The heart of your circulatory system is…wait for it…your heart. It works 24 hours a day for your entire life to pump blood through two primary circulatory loops:
The pulmonary circulation loop conveys deoxygenated blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs, where the blood is charged with oxygen and returned to the left side of the heart.
The systemic circulation loop pumps oxygenated blood from the left side of the heart to your other organs and tissues. On its return, this circulation loop returns deoxygenated blood to the right side of the heart.
Your blood vessels are the mechanisms 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 convey blood away from the heart. They have high levels of interior pressure because they are transporting blood that is being pushed by the heart muscle. As a result, the walls of arteries are thicker and more elastic than other vessels. The walls of arteries also contain muscles that contract to help blood flow through them from the heart to other areas.
Arterioles, capillaries, and venules are the smallest and thinnest of blood vessels, and the most common. Arterioles branch off from the ends of arteries, and capillaries branch off from them, conveying blood to most of the body’s tissues before connecting to venules for the “return trip” to the heart.
Veins are the “return” vessels that carry deoxygenated blood and waste 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 blood flow depends on the contraction of surrounding muscles to push blood back to the heart. To keep the flow going in one direction, tiny, one-way valves open in response to muscle contractions, and then close again until the next contraction.
This sounds pretty complex – what can go wrong with it?
LOTS can go wrong. There are an enormous number of disorders that can afflict the heart, arteries, and veins. Being able to detect and diagnose these disorders is what enables Vein Clinics of Hawaii to be considered one of the best vein treatment centers in Maui. If you are interested in learning more about your circulatory system and how we help you keep it healthy, spend some time with the informative articles on our website or give our vein treatment center in Hawaii a call.