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Personal Injury Anatomy-Cardiovascular System

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Personal Injury Anatomy Cardiovascular System

Brien Roche

Personal Injury Anatomy Cardiovascular System

Personal injury anatomy cardiovascular system is one of several postings dealing with human anatomy and physiology for personal injury attorneys and plaintiffs. Some times in order to understand your personal injury case it is necessary to have a basic understanding of anatomy. These postings are designed to provide that. The information contained in these postings is for the most part derived from a course offered by The Teaching Company as referenced in the footnotes.

The Heart

The cardiovascular system is the heart and the blood.  The heart pumps 1.3 gallons of blood per minute1.  It is the arteries that carry blood away from the heart and veins that bring the oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart.  The heart is located in the center of the chest.  It is sometimes thought that it’s to the left of center but it actually is not.  That is why when CPR is performed, what you are doing is compressing the flexible ribs so that the heart itself can be compressed between the ribs and the back bone.  That hopefully will cause blood to continue flowing or begin flowing.

The heart and the lungs are in the thoracic cavity.  The thoracic cavity is separated from the abdominal cavity below it by what is called the diaphragm which is a sheet of muscle.  The heart is approximately the size of a human fist and weighs about 1 pound.  It is a mighty instrument in that it is able to pump blood through approximately 50,000 miles of vessels which include not only the arteries and veins but also capillaries.  To put that into context, the circumference of the earth is 24,000 miles.

The heart itself is broken into four compartments.  The two upper compartments are what are called atria or waiting rooms.  The two lower compartments are ventricles or otherwise referred to as lower chambers.  The blood that has already circulated through the body returns to the heart into the right atrium.  From the right atrium it then goes into the right ventricle.  From that right ventricle the blood is pumped to the lungs where it is oxygenated.  The blood then returns to the left atrium and it is then pumped into the left ventricle and from the left ventricle it is then pumped throughout the body.  Most of the work of the heart is being done on the left side and as such the muscles on the left side are considerably larger than the muscles on the right side2.

Between these various chambers there are valves that prevent backflow of blood into the chamber from which the blood came.  The valves are like little parachutes which to some extent collapse as the blood is flowing into the lower chamber and, as the chamber below fills up then the parachute billows in order to prevent any backflow into the chamber from which the blood came.

There are coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart itself.  When the blood in the coronary artery ceases to flow then typically death follows.  This phenomenon is called a myocardial infarction or a heart attack.  An infarction is simply death of tissue.  Typically more than 70% of the blood flow has to be halted before tissue damage becomes problematic.

Although muscle in general may be conductive of electricity, about 1% of the heart muscle is actually able to conduct electricity as well as the nerves are.

When a doctor places a stethoscope to your chest to listen to your heart, what the doctor is hearing at least in part is the functioning of the valves which produces a very distinctive sound of “lub-dub”.  Since there is no air in the heart, there is no splashing of fluid.  The sound that is heard consisting of the “lub” comes from the closing of the valve leading to the ventricle.  The “dub” comes with the closure of two other valves3.

Blood pressure consists of two numbers.  The upper number is what is called the systolic pressure which is the active pressure of the two ventricles pushing blood either to the lungs or out to the body.  The diastolic pressure is the lower number which measures the pressure when the ventricles are refilling with blood.

An EKG (electrocardiogram) is a picture of the electrical cycle of the heart.

A common problem with valves is what are called “murmurs” which arise when a valve is damaged.  There are a host of different treatments for heart conditions consisting of stents, placement of balloons into vessels to open them up and bypass surgery which actually reroutes blood around the damaged area.

The Blood

Although veins and arteries are the main actors in the circulatory system, the important work of the exchange of oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients and waste materials occurs at the capillary level.  It’s at that level where capillaries on the arterial side exchange their oxygen and nutrients for the carbon dioxide and waste material that is being brought to them by the capillaries on the venous side.  Literally every cell in the body is near a capillary because that exchange has to occur at the cellular level.  That exchange occurs at all of the organs in the body with the exception of the lens and the cornea in the eye which do not have any blood supply.  They get their nutrition through diffusion.

The veins in the body are typically less thick and less elastic than are the arteries.  Although blood is being pushed through the veins, it is not being pushed as vigorously as the blood that is flowing through the arteries.  It is for that reason that if you’re going to be sitting for a long period of time, you need to be conscious of the possibility of blood pooling and clotting in your veins and causing an embolism which is a clot.  An embolism in the brain is called a stroke.  An embolism in the pulmonary area is called a pulmonary embolism.  An embolism in the leg can be treated.  An embolism in the lungs is considerably more threatening4.

The human body has about 1-½ gallons of blood.  The blood consists of red cells, white cells and plasma.  The red cells contain the oxygen and nutrients.  The white cells are infection fighters.  Plasma is mostly water containing electrolytes, antibodies and clotting elements.

The blood, aside from circulating oxygen, picking up nutrients from the GI system and removing carbon dioxide and other waste also circulates hormones.

The blood is also critical as far as maintaining equilibrium within the body.  All systems within nature prefer balance or equilibrium.  Equilibrium in the body consists of maintaining a proper balance between acids and bases.

The blood also helps to regulate temperature.  It can serve as a cooling agent and also serve as a warming agent to warm the vital organs.

You probably have noticed that during cold weather your extremities turn white and contract.  The reason for this is that the blood in the extremities is being drawn back to the center of mass to keep those central organs warm.  As such it can be very harmful to take alcohol during cold weather conditions.  Alcohol is what is called a skin vasodilator which means that it opens the capillaries at the skin level.  It otherwise is a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it restricts the other vessels that are carrying blood.  In cold weather alcohol draws blood away from the center of mass where it is needed.

In hot weather conditions the blood is pushed towards the skin in order to hasten cooling.

Another component of blood is what are called platelets which are the clotting compound.

Shock is a frequent phenomenon especially after a severe injury.  Shock is simply a state in which the body cannot maintain sufficient blood flow.  It’s technically defined as existing where the systolic pressure is less than 80.   When a person is thought to be in shock the first thing to be done is to get IV fluids into the person.

As we get older or otherwise engage in unhealthy activities such as smoking or too much consumption of LDL cholesterol, the arterial walls may become damaged and brittle.  That damage may result in inflammation which means that white blood cells, a component of the immune system, may be sent to the arterial walls to fight the inflammation.  The presence of white cells actually increases the congestion.  The inflammation may be further promoted by the build-up of cholesterol depositing at these areas of inflammation thereby further reducing the ability of the blood to flow through the artery.  Coronary artery disease is a condition wherein there is a build-up of deposits known as plaque in the blood vessels.  The hardening or damage to the interior walls of the vessels is known as atherosclerosis.  All of this can produce angina which is severe chest pains resulting from a lack of oxygen-rich blood being supplied to the heart muscle and also can result in what is known as congestive heart failure which is the inability of the heart to provide adequate blood flow to the rest of the body.

A stroke is also referred to as a cerebrovascular accident.  Typically a stroke occurs in the brain.  A stroke may be a result either of a bleed from a leaking vessel or it may be a result of blockage or clotting within a vessel in the brain.  Either way there is a deprivation of oxygen-rich blood to the necessary parts of the body.

Genetics can play a significant role in terms of heart disease as seen in basketball great, Pete Maravich; running guru, Jim Fixx and tennis legend, Arthur Ashe.  Diabetes is also a major player in heart disease.

For more information on the cardiovascular system see the pages on Wikipedia.

Footnotes:

Understanding the Human Body:  An Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology, Anthony A. Goodman, (p. 4).

Understanding the Human Body:  An Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology, Anthony A. Goodman, (p. 6).

Understanding the Human Body:  An Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology, Anthony A. Goodman, (p. 9).

Understanding the Human Body:  An Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology, Anthony A. Goodman, (p. 19).

 

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Personal Injury Anatomy-Cardiovascular System

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Personal Injury Anatomy Cardiovascular System

Brien Roche

Personal Injury Anatomy Cardiovascular System

Personal injury anatomy cardiovascular system is one of several postings dealing with human anatomy and physiology for personal injury attorneys and plaintiffs. Some times in order to understand your personal injury case it is necessary to have a basic understanding of anatomy. These postings are designed to provide that. The information contained in these postings is for the most part derived from a course offered by The Teaching Company as referenced in the footnotes.

The Heart

The cardiovascular system is the heart and the blood.  The heart pumps 1.3 gallons of blood per minute1.  It is the arteries that carry blood away from the heart and veins that bring the oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart.  The heart is located in the center of the chest.  It is sometimes thought that it’s to the left of center but it actually is not.  That is why when CPR is performed, what you are doing is compressing the flexible ribs so that the heart itself can be compressed between the ribs and the back bone.  That hopefully will cause blood to continue flowing or begin flowing.

The heart and the lungs are in the thoracic cavity.  The thoracic cavity is separated from the abdominal cavity below it by what is called the diaphragm which is a sheet of muscle.  The heart is approximately the size of a human fist and weighs about 1 pound.  It is a mighty instrument in that it is able to pump blood through approximately 50,000 miles of vessels which include not only the arteries and veins but also capillaries.  To put that into context, the circumference of the earth is 24,000 miles.

The heart itself is broken into four compartments.  The two upper compartments are what are called atria or waiting rooms.  The two lower compartments are ventricles or otherwise referred to as lower chambers.  The blood that has already circulated through the body returns to the heart into the right atrium.  From the right atrium it then goes into the right ventricle.  From that right ventricle the blood is pumped to the lungs where it is oxygenated.  The blood then returns to the left atrium and it is then pumped into the left ventricle and from the left ventricle it is then pumped throughout the body.  Most of the work of the heart is being done on the left side and as such the muscles on the left side are considerably larger than the muscles on the right side2.

Between these various chambers there are valves that prevent backflow of blood into the chamber from which the blood came.  The valves are like little parachutes which to some extent collapse as the blood is flowing into the lower chamber and, as the chamber below fills up then the parachute billows in order to prevent any backflow into the chamber from which the blood came.

There are coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart itself.  When the blood in the coronary artery ceases to flow then typically death follows.  This phenomenon is called a myocardial infarction or a heart attack.  An infarction is simply death of tissue.  Typically more than 70% of the blood flow has to be halted before tissue damage becomes problematic.

Although muscle in general may be conductive of electricity, about 1% of the heart muscle is actually able to conduct electricity as well as the nerves are.

When a doctor places a stethoscope to your chest to listen to your heart, what the doctor is hearing at least in part is the functioning of the valves which produces a very distinctive sound of “lub-dub”.  Since there is no air in the heart, there is no splashing of fluid.  The sound that is heard consisting of the “lub” comes from the closing of the valve leading to the ventricle.  The “dub” comes with the closure of two other valves3.

Blood pressure consists of two numbers.  The upper number is what is called the systolic pressure which is the active pressure of the two ventricles pushing blood either to the lungs or out to the body.  The diastolic pressure is the lower number which measures the pressure when the ventricles are refilling with blood.

An EKG (electrocardiogram) is a picture of the electrical cycle of the heart.

A common problem with valves is what are called “murmurs” which arise when a valve is damaged.  There are a host of different treatments for heart conditions consisting of stents, placement of balloons into vessels to open them up and bypass surgery which actually reroutes blood around the damaged area.

The Blood

Although veins and arteries are the main actors in the circulatory system, the important work of the exchange of oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients and waste materials occurs at the capillary level.  It’s at that level where capillaries on the arterial side exchange their oxygen and nutrients for the carbon dioxide and waste material that is being brought to them by the capillaries on the venous side.  Literally every cell in the body is near a capillary because that exchange has to occur at the cellular level.  That exchange occurs at all of the organs in the body with the exception of the lens and the cornea in the eye which do not have any blood supply.  They get their nutrition through diffusion.

The veins in the body are typically less thick and less elastic than are the arteries.  Although blood is being pushed through the veins, it is not being pushed as vigorously as the blood that is flowing through the arteries.  It is for that reason that if you’re going to be sitting for a long period of time, you need to be conscious of the possibility of blood pooling and clotting in your veins and causing an embolism which is a clot.  An embolism in the brain is called a stroke.  An embolism in the pulmonary area is called a pulmonary embolism.  An embolism in the leg can be treated.  An embolism in the lungs is considerably more threatening4.

The human body has about 1-½ gallons of blood.  The blood consists of red cells, white cells and plasma.  The red cells contain the oxygen and nutrients.  The white cells are infection fighters.  Plasma is mostly water containing electrolytes, antibodies and clotting elements.

The blood, aside from circulating oxygen, picking up nutrients from the GI system and removing carbon dioxide and other waste also circulates hormones.

The blood is also critical as far as maintaining equilibrium within the body.  All systems within nature prefer balance or equilibrium.  Equilibrium in the body consists of maintaining a proper balance between acids and bases.

The blood also helps to regulate temperature.  It can serve as a cooling agent and also serve as a warming agent to warm the vital organs.

You probably have noticed that during cold weather your extremities turn white and contract.  The reason for this is that the blood in the extremities is being drawn back to the center of mass to keep those central organs warm.  As such it can be very harmful to take alcohol during cold weather conditions.  Alcohol is what is called a skin vasodilator which means that it opens the capillaries at the skin level.  It otherwise is a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it restricts the other vessels that are carrying blood.  In cold weather alcohol draws blood away from the center of mass where it is needed.

In hot weather conditions the blood is pushed towards the skin in order to hasten cooling.

Another component of blood is what are called platelets which are the clotting compound.

Shock is a frequent phenomenon especially after a severe injury.  Shock is simply a state in which the body cannot maintain sufficient blood flow.  It’s technically defined as existing where the systolic pressure is less than 80.   When a person is thought to be in shock the first thing to be done is to get IV fluids into the person.

As we get older or otherwise engage in unhealthy activities such as smoking or too much consumption of LDL cholesterol, the arterial walls may become damaged and brittle.  That damage may result in inflammation which means that white blood cells, a component of the immune system, may be sent to the arterial walls to fight the inflammation.  The presence of white cells actually increases the congestion.  The inflammation may be further promoted by the build-up of cholesterol depositing at these areas of inflammation thereby further reducing the ability of the blood to flow through the artery.  Coronary artery disease is a condition wherein there is a build-up of deposits known as plaque in the blood vessels.  The hardening or damage to the interior walls of the vessels is known as atherosclerosis.  All of this can produce angina which is severe chest pains resulting from a lack of oxygen-rich blood being supplied to the heart muscle and also can result in what is known as congestive heart failure which is the inability of the heart to provide adequate blood flow to the rest of the body.

A stroke is also referred to as a cerebrovascular accident.  Typically a stroke occurs in the brain.  A stroke may be a result either of a bleed from a leaking vessel or it may be a result of blockage or clotting within a vessel in the brain.  Either way there is a deprivation of oxygen-rich blood to the necessary parts of the body.

Genetics can play a significant role in terms of heart disease as seen in basketball great, Pete Maravich; running guru, Jim Fixx and tennis legend, Arthur Ashe.  Diabetes is also a major player in heart disease.

For more information on the cardiovascular system see the pages on Wikipedia.

Footnotes:

Understanding the Human Body:  An Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology, Anthony A. Goodman, (p. 4).

Understanding the Human Body:  An Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology, Anthony A. Goodman, (p. 6).

Understanding the Human Body:  An Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology, Anthony A. Goodman, (p. 9).

Understanding the Human Body:  An Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology, Anthony A. Goodman, (p. 19).

 

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation