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Circulatory System

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, or cardiovascular system, in humans, the combined function of the heart, blood, and blood vessels to transport oxygen and nutrients to organs and tissues throughout the body and carry away waste products. Among its vital functions, the circulatory system increases the flow of blood to meet increased energy demands during exercise and regulates body temperature. In addition, when foreign substances or organisms invade the body, the circulatory system swiftly conveys disease-fighting elements of the immune system, such as white blood cells and antibodies, to regions under attack. Also, in the case of injury or bleeding, the circulatory system sends clotting cells and proteins to the affected site, which quickly stop bleeding and promote healing.


Capillary Network

Circulatory System -- Media -- Encarta  Online

A web of tiny blood vessels branches from arterioles to bring blood to every tissue in the body. These small capillaries reconverge, forming larger and larger vessels that take deoxygenated blood (blue) back to the heart.
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Constituents of Blood

Circulatory System -- Media -- Encarta  Online

In an average healthy person, approximately 45 percent of the blood volume is cells, among them red cells (the majority), white cells, and platelets. A clear, yellowish fluid called plasma makes up the rest of blood. Plasma, 95 percent of which is water, also contains nutrients such as glucose, fats, proteins, and the amino acids needed for protein synthesis, vitamins, and minerals. The level of salt in plasma is about equal to that of sea water. The test tube on the right has been centrifuged to separate plasma and packed cells by density.

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Last modified: May 28, 2001