• Vertebrates circulate blood, a fluid connective tissue, in their body, to transport essential substances to the cells and to carry waste substances from there.
  • Another fluid, lymph (tissue fluid) is also used for the transport of certain substances.
  • Blood comprises of a fluid matrix, plasma and formed elements. Red blood cells (RBCs, erythrocytes), white blood cells (WBCs, leucocytes) and platelets (thrombocytes) constitute the formed elements.
  • Blood of humans are grouped into A, B, AB and O systems based on the presence or absence of two surface antigens, A, B on the RBCs. Another blood grouping is also done based on the presence or absence of another antigen called Rhesus factor (Rh) on the surface of RBCs.
  • The spaces between cells in the tissues contain a fluid derived from blood called tissue fluid. This fluid called lymph is almost similar to blood except for the protein content and the formed elements.
  • All vertebrates and a few invertebrates have a closed circulatory system. Our circulatory system consists of a muscular pumping organ, heart, a network of vessels and a fluid, blood. Heart has two atria and two ventricles.
  • Cardiac musculature is auto-excitable. Sino-atrial node (SAN) generates the maximum number of action protentials per minute (70-75/min) and therefore, it sets the pace of the activities of the heart. Hence it is called the Pacemaker.
  • The action potential causes the atria and then the ventricles to undergo contraction (systole) followed by their relaxation (diastole).
  • The systole forces the blood to move from the atria to the ventricles and to the pulmonary artery and the aorta.
  • The cardiac cycle is formed by sequential events in the heart which is cyclically repeated and is called the cardiac cycle.
  • A healthy person shows 72 such cycles per minute. About 70 mL of blood is pumped out by each ventricle during a cardiac cycle and it is called the stroke or beat volume.
  • Volume of blood pumped out by each ventricle of heart per minute is called the cardiac output and it is equal to the product of stroke volume and heart rate (approx 5 litres).
  • The electrical activity of the heart can be recorded from the body surface by using electrocardiograph and the recording is called electrocardiogram (ECG) which is of clinical importance.
  • We have a complete double circulation, i.e., two circulatory pathways, namely, pulmonary and systemic are present.
  • The pulmonary circulation starts by the pumping of deoxygenated blood by the right ventricle which is carried to the lungs where it is oxygenated and returned to the left atrium.
  • The systemic circulation starts with the pumping of oxygenated blood by the left ventricle to the aorta which is carried to all the body tissues and the deoxygenated blood from there is collected by the veins and returned to the right atrium.
  • Though the heart is autoexcitable, its functions can be moderated by neural and hormonal mechanisms.

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