Category: Physiology

The heart pumps a volume of blood into the lungs which after getting oxygenated is transported back to heart. This oxygenated blood is then pumped out of the heart and into the aorta and subsequently into the systemic circulation. As a consequence, at any given time the lungs (pulmonary vasculature) contain around 500ml of blood, thereby allowing them to function as a reservoir of the blood. This reservoir volume is increased by 500 ml when the person is in the supine or lying down position. This is because in supine position there’s an increased venous return (due to the effect of gravity) to the right heart from the peripheries and therefore more blood accumulates in the central parts of body. Upon standing up, this extra 500ml of blood gets redistributed under the effect of gravity, to the now more dependent parts of the body which includes the peripheral tissues and the lower extremities.

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The division of vasculature in the pulmonary circuit is somewhat different from that in the systemic circulation. The arteries in the pulmonary circuit divide in a binary fashion, thereby following the pattern of division of the airways. The veins too exhibit a pattern similar to the arterioles and the bronchioles, thereby finally converging into forming one large pulmonary vein. These pulmonary veins transport the oxygenated blood back to the heart.

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NODAL ACTION POTENTIAL VS. VENTRICULAR ACTION POTENTIAL

The nodal tissues and the Purkinje fibers exhibit automaticity in their properties as they are able to undergo spontaneous depolarizations. In other words, these tissues do not require the need of an external stimulus or a trigger to undergo depolarization. This is in contrast to ventricular fibers that do not show automaticity. The reason behind this phenomenon can be explained as follow:

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  • The resting membrane potential (RMP) of nodal tissues is less negative than the RMP of ventricular fibers. This allows the nodal tissue channels to operate in a semi-activated state even during the resting phase of the action potential. The comparatively more negative ventricular fibers do not show this property and hence, are not easily activated by low voltage impulses.

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Nitric Oxide is called an endothelium derived relaxing factor (EDRF) as it is released by the endothelium of the blood vessel. EDRF cause relaxation of the vascular smooth muscle, and as a result cause vasodilation of the blood vessel. The following factors contribute to the release of nitric oxide from the endothelium:

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  1. Blood travelling at high velocity causes a shearing effect on the wall of the blood vessels. As the endothelial cells endure a drag force produced due to friction. This results in a mechanical trigger which stimulates release of nitric oxide.

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TYPES OF CHANNELS AND CONCENTRATIONS OF VARIOUS IONS

  1. Sodium Channels: The concentration of sodium ions outside the cell membrane is greater than that inside the cell. Therefore, there is a passive movement of sodium ions into the cell as the channels open. The sodium channels are voltage gated as they undergo conformational change in response to differences in potential across the membrane. The sodium channels have two types of gates that control the passage of sodium ions; the ‘H’ gate and the ‘M’ gate. At resting stage, the M gate is closed and the H gate is open. Upon stimulation by an action potential, the M gate opens and the channels become active, allowing sodium ions to travel into the cell. This opening of the channels is limited by time. After a fraction of a second, the H gates close spontaneously rendering the channels inactive. The sodium channels enter a refractory period during which they cannot be activated no matter how strong is the stimulus. At the same time, the M gate closes as well. As soon as the refractory period ends, the H channels open and the sodium channels are restored to their initial inactive state. The M gates remain closed till the arrival of the next action potential and the cycle is repeated.

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Different states of the fast sodium channels and relative conformational states of the H and M gates are summarized in the table below:

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Resistance can be integrated into two types of circuits; parallel and serial circuit.

Series Circuit

The heart is placed in series with the pulmonary vasculature and as well as the rest of the body. It pumps blood to the lungs, from where the blood travels back to the left side of the heart. The left heart pumps blood to the rest of the body after which the blood is returned back to the right heart. Therefore, the pulmonary and systemic circuits are connected in series via two pumps, which are the right heart and left heart respectively.

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Calculating Resistance in Series

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Definition: Reynolds Number is used to predict the type of blood flow in a blood vessel. There are two types of blood flow:

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  • Laminar Flow: The laminar flow is described as the flow of fluid which is travelling in a calm, layered fashion. The layer of fluid flowing in the center most region of the blood vessel is said to have the highest velocity. Moving peripherally, the velocity of the layers decrease and the outer most layer, which is running along the vessel wall, is said to be travelling with the lowest velocity. This is due to friction which results in a backward drag produced by the wall on the layer adjacent to it. It is important for a blood vessel to exhibit laminar flow in order to maintain its physical integrity and carry out various cardiovascular functions. Laminar flow allows margination to occur efficiently among other functions. Margination is the process of adherence of blood cells to the vessel wall and their subsequent exit through the wall of the blood vessel to areas of need. This process gets largely disrupted if blood flow is not laminar.
  • Turbulent Flow:

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