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CIRCULATORY SYSTEM

Chief organs involved in these systems are Heart, Lungs, Lymphatic nodes, Lymphatic drain, Spleen, Thymus.

Circulatory system is responsible for constant flow of blood and other body fluids inside the body. It consists of heart, blood vessels (arteries, veins, capillaries) and the lymphatic system. Lymphatic system helps the venous functions.

Body fluids (blood, tissue fluid and lymph) supply nourishment to and remove wastes from all cells. Therefore their proper circulation is essential to the life of the cells. Bright red blood is transported from the heart outward through the network of aorta, arteries and capillaries to the other parts of body, supplying nourishment and oxygen to the cells. At the same time, blood removes and collects waste from the cells, thereby becoming dark in color and returns back towards the heart through the network of veins. Before returning to heart, it passes through the lungs, where it is cleansed and receives the supply of oxygen that makes it pure and bright red again.

The smooth muscles of walls of arteries, veins and lymph vessels contract automatically and control pressure, speed, distribution, flow and quantity of the liquid passing through them. In this way, they regulate the load over the heart.

If this system fails to function properly circulation of fluids is affected The cells do not receive adequate nourishment and harmful wastes accumulate. Insufficient functioning of walls of lymph vessels causes edema and also strains the heart.

Heart
The volume of blood in our body is limited. It has to perform unlimited amount of work. Therefore, the same quantity of blood must be used over and over again. One simple example will clarify. Total blood quantity in our body can carry oxygen at a time, just sufficient to meet the oxygen need of body for about 5 minutes only. So, the blood must be sent to lungs for re-oxygenating at least every 5 minutes.

In other words, the blood must circulate. Heart is the powerful pumping station. Its action puts the blood into circulation. It is an organ made of extremely strong, involuntary muscle. It is located between two lungs. In size, it is about 5 inches long, 3 ˝ inches wide and 2 ˝ inches thick in adults, about the size of a clenched fist, weighing about 10 to 12 ounces.

Left half of heart contains pure, oxygenated blood to be pumped out to reach tissues and cells. In the right half portion, impure blood is collected to be sent to the lungs to be re-oxygenated. Blood circulates to the remotest part of the body 3 times a minute.

The heart is located deep in the body, therefore deep pressure may be required to massage its reflexes on foot. Remember, do not over-do the massage.

Various disorders of heart produce different symptoms e.g. perspiration, pain in chest, arm, shoulder etc., Palpitation may be caused due to indigestion also. Stomach filled with gases due to indigestion presses against the diaphragm and appears to disturb the heart.

Lungs
We have mentioned about lungs before in the Respiratory system. Impure blood, while passing through the lungs, receives fresh oxygen from the air drawn inside by the lungs. Carbon dioxide, a waste collected by the blood during its journey throughout the body, is unloaded in the lungs, to be exhaled out from the body by the lungs.

Imperfect lung-action can create short supply of oxygen to the body putting extra strain on the heart and resulting in heart disorders like an enlarged heart, etc.

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LYMPHATIC SYSTEM

This system works in partnership with the venous system to clear the wastes. There is an extensive network throughout the body of thin walled vessels, which carries the lymph. Lymph is a fluid, which seeps through the blood vessel walls and is collected by lymph vessels. Through the lymph vessels, it is carried to two main lymphatic ducts, emptying into two veins near the neck. During this movement of lymph fluid, it passes through lymph nodes at various places.

Lymph nodes (glands) are little balls of cells acting as filters for removing dead cells and other foreign matters, including harmful bacterias, from the lymph fluid. They are about 600 in number, distributed throughout the body, mainly located in groin, armpit and neck.

The lymph fluid bathes all of the body's cells, feeds them with nutrients absorbed through the small intestines, particularly to the cells where even blood cannot reach.

Lymph nodes are small fortresses. They arrest the harmful bacterias and foreign matters and debris of dead cells for disposal. They process them to produce antibodies, which are the body's chief defense against infection.

Due to plugging of lymph nodes, lymph fluid may pool in legs and feet causing swelling (Edema). This pooling can be caused even by heart disorders, too much salt in diet or as a side effect of medicines.

Spleen
It is a part of the lymphatic system. Located only at the left edge of pancreas on left side of the abdomen, it is about 5 inches long, 3 to 4 inches wide and 1.1/2 inches thick. It weighs about 7 ounces in adults.

It produces antibodies, filters lymph fluid, destroys the faulty dead cells and produces new red blood cells. It re-cycles iron for hemoglobin production. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to tissues; spleen is the storage area of iron and extra blood.

Spleen is involved in various disorders of blood-forming tissues, e.g. Leukemia, Anemia, etc.

Thymus
It is mentioned previously in “Important Glands”. It is a lymph gland, playing key role in developing immune system of our body, particularly in infants. At the age of 13 or 14, as puberty is reached, this gland must shrink.

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Lymphatic drain
The lymphatic system finally drains its fluid into two veins at the base of neck. The veins are important for transition of lymph fluid into the venous system, to return back to blood.
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