The Circulatory System
The circulatory system (or cardiovascular system) is the body’s system which moves blood and tissue waste around the body. The heart is at the centre of the circulatory system and pumps blood to the lungs and the rest of the body.
Blood is pumped from the heart to the lungs where the blood is oxygenated and then travels back to the heart. The heart then pumps this oxygen-rich blood around your body through a network of arteries and tiny capillaries. Once the oxygen and nutrients have been used up by the body the blood is carried back to your heart through veins together with waste products collected from your body tissue including carbon dioxide. The cycle begins again when the heart pumps the deoxygenated blood back to the lungs to be re-oxygenated where it repeats the process.
There are 3 main types of blood vessels:
Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to all of the body's tissues. As the blood travels further from the heart these arteries get smaller and become capillaries
Capillaries are the smallest blood vessels and allow oxygen, nutrients, carbon dioxide and others waste products pass through them to deliver and remove from cells. Capillaries connect the arteries and the veins.
Veins take deoxygenated blood back to the heart and drop off waste products which are to be removed by other organs in our body. Veins become larger and larger as they get closer to the heart.
Returning the blood back to your heart from your feet and legs is hard work, as your veins have to overcome gravity. The muscles in your lower legs and feet operate like a pump (second heart), pushing the blood through one way valves back up to your heart helping to maintain a good level of circulation. As we become older the one way valves in the veins become weaker and leak blood through the valves. This is how blood begins to ‘pool’ in the ankles and feet causing swelling.
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