By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Describe the passage of air from the outside environment to the lungs
- Describe the function of the circulatory system
- Describe the cardiac cycle
- Explain how blood flows through the body
Animals are complex multicellular organisms that require a mechanism for transporting nutrients throughout their bodies and removing wastes. The human circulatory system has a complex network of blood vessels that reach all parts of the body. This extensive network supplies the cells, tissues, and organs with oxygen and nutrients, and removes carbon dioxide and waste compounds.
The medium for transport of gases and other molecules is the blood, which continually circulates through the system. Pressure differences within the system cause the movement of the blood and are created by the pumping of the heart.
Gas exchange between tissues and the blood is an essential function of the circulatory system. In humans, other mammals, and birds, blood absorbs oxygen and releases carbon dioxide in the lungs. Thus the circulatory and respiratory system, whose function is to obtain oxygen and discharge carbon dioxide, work in tandem.