The cardiovascular system, also known as the circulatory system, is a system of the body comprised of the heart, the blood, and the blood vessels. This system is responsible for transporting blood. As the cardiovascular system moves blood throughout the body, cells receive oxygen and nutrients. Carbon dioxide and other wastes are removed from the body as well. The word cardiovascular stems from the Greek word kardia which means "heart" and the Latin word vasculum which means "small vessel."
In this complex system, the heart acts as a pump, forcing the blood to move through the body and relaxing so that more blood can enter its chambers. The majority of the blood is comprised of plasma, a watery fluid filled with protein. Less than half of the blood is made up of platelets and red and white blood cells. The platelets help blood to clot if a person suffers a cut or hemorrhages.
It's important to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system since the blood and blood vessels are crucial to good health. The cardiovascular system is the workhorse of the body, continuously moving to push blood to the cells. If this important system ceases its work, the body dies.
The heart contracts more than 100,000 times daily as it pushes blood through the blood vessels. As it contracts, it forces blood into the bloodstream. The blood transports nutrients from the digestive system and oxygen from the lungs to the body's cells. Then the blood carries waste products that are removed by the kidneys and carbon dioxide that is expelled by the lungs.
The heart is a muscle about the size of a fist and is divided into four chambers. These chambers are the right atrium, the left atrium, the right ventricle, and the left ventricle. During the circulatory process, blood enters the heart's right atrium. As the heart contracts, blood moves through a valve from the right atrium into the right ventricle. The blood then flows through another heart valve into the lungs.
This is where the blood picks up oxygen. At this point, the blood flows to the heart's left atrium and through a valve into the left ventricle, from where it then flows through a valve into the aorta. Upon leaving the aorta, the blood travels to the remainder of the body, carrying much needed nutrients and oxygen to the body's cells.
When problems arise within the cardiovascular system, a person suffers from a cardiovascular disease. More than 60 kinds of cardiovascular diseases can cause serious health problems. Common diseases include stroke or heart disease. Some conditions such as congenital heart disease are present when a person is born; other cardiovascular diseases develop gradually as a person grows into adulthood.