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Lymphatic and Cardiovascular System

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    Introduction The cardiovascular system is one of most important system in the human body.

    It includes the heart which in most cases becomes an indicator of life. The cardiovascular system connects with the lymphatic system and both system forms networks of tubes around our body that spans from the head to the toes. They are connected with each other in such a way that they form some sort of mutual relationship. The cardiovascular system provides fluid to the lymphatic system while the lymphatic system helps provides protection by creating antibodies.

    A careful look at how the two systems works together is therefore a very interesting endeavor. Cardiovascular System Structure OverviewFigure 1. “Cardiovascular System” (Rose, 2000)The cardiovascular system or otherwise known as “the circulatory system” consist of the blood vessels, the heart, and the blood that flows within it. The blood vessels are consists of interconnected networks of arteries, veins and capillaries.

    These vast networks spans from the head to the toes. The arteries are the larger blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the other parts of the body through the smaller networks called the capillaries. The blood, after distributing oxygen, returns through the veins for re-oxygenation process. In figure 1, the arteries are shown as large red colored blood vessels while the veins are shown as blue colored blood vessels.

    In our body, these blood vessels also look like the color indicated where the oxygen rich blood flows through the arteries taking up a red color while the oxygen deficient blood flows through the veins taking up bluish color.The networks of interconnected blood vessels are sometimes referred to as circulatory circuits because they form connections like electrical circuits. “The circulatory system is divided into two circuits, the pulmonary circulation, which involves the right heart, delivers blood to and from the lungs and the systemic circulation, which involves the left heart, delivers blood into the other parts of the body” (Rose, 2000). Function DetailsThe purpose of the circulatory system is to deliver oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the human body.

    The delivering of oxygen starts with the pulmonary circulation, where oxygen-poor blood is pumped by the right portion of the heart into the lungs through the pulmonary arteries. The lungs perform the oxygenation and removal of carbon dioxide from the blood. Oxygen-rich blood returns to the heart through the pulmonary vein. The left heart then delivers this oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body through the systemic circulation.

    The flow of oxygen-rich blood in the systemic circulation starts from the largest artery connected to the heart called the aorta. “Arteries are basically strong and elastic able to withstand the changing pressure applied by the pumping of the heart” (Rose, 2000). The blood from the aorta distributes to smaller arteries. These arteries further divides into smaller tubes and eventually into finer arteries called arterioles.

    These arterioles then connect to capillaries which are bathed with lymph, fluids produced by the lymphatic system. Capillary beds then goes through the smaller veins called venules and unite to bigger veins before returning to the much larger veins towards the heart.The delivering of nutrients starts from the small intestines where nutrient enters through the portal veins. The nutrients are then delivered to the rest of the body through the network of blood vessels.

    Excess wastes are removed by the liver and the kidney. Most of the excess water are remove by the kidney. Lymphatic System Structure OverviewFigure 1. Lymphatic System (Cancer Research UK, 2007) The lymphatic system is like the circulatory system where a network of tubes branch throughout the body.

    “The difference is instead of carrying blood, it carries colorless fluid called lymph” (Cancer Research, 2007).  Lymph is sometimes called as interstitial fluid, and contains a great number of white blood cells called “lymphocytes”. These white blood cells are our first line of defense against any form of infection. The lymphatic system consists of lymph vessel, thoracic ducts, lymph nodes, and lymph organs – bone marrow, spleen, thymus, tonsils and adenoids.

    The lymph vessels connect the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, tonsils and adenoids. “Somewhere along these vast lymph vessels are lymph nodes, a small bean-shape lymph glands or nodes” (Cancer Research, 2007). Function DetailsThe functions of the lymphatic system include draining out of fluids that leaks out of the body tissues. These fluids where needed to transport nutrients into the cell wall and to carry the waste materials back to the blood streams.

    “The fluids drain into the lymph vessels and goes at the back of the neck where it is emptied back into the blood stream” (Cancer Research, 2007). This is a process that goes on and on inside our body which helps our body free of toxic waste materials.Another function of the lymphatic system is to filter lymph of bacteria and viruses. The lymph nodes perform this function where white blood cells attack bacteria and viruses that were able to make its way into the lymphatic vessels.

    When a person is suffering from cancer, lymph nodes are the usual places where doctors look for indicators because cancer cells clogged up in the lymph nodes as they are being attacked by the immune system.Another function of the lymphatic system is to filter the blood of worn out red blood cells. The spleen performs this function by replacing worn out red blood cells with new red blood cells produced from the bone marrow. The spleen also attacks bacteria and viruses through the white blood cells within it.

    Another very important function of the lymphatic system is to fight infection. Aside from carrying white blood cells, they create special white blood cells that produce antibodies. The lymph nodes also contain macrophage which swallows foreign objects and eventually killing them. Robotics of Organs The complexity of these organs makes it almost impossible to replace the entire system with a robotic system.

    Although with the current growth of technology, like in the areas of artificial intelligence and robotics, these may well be within the grasp of technological science within the next decades.  Although it may be much easier to replace some parts but not the entire system. For example the heart, the spleen, or the functions of lymph nodes can be replaced a robotic system. In 2001, the first American to receive a mechanical heart occurred in a Jewish Hospital in Louisville.

    “The mechanical heart is a 1kg electric-powered pump designed specifically for patients whose own hearts have been damaged by disease or heart attacks” (BBC News, 2001). However these mechanical hearts are only temporary and they cannot replace a heart in the long run because of some problems related to blood clotting.Recently robots are limited to mimicking human behavior like walking, deciding on simple task and performing other simple human actions. One of the most advance examples is Honda’s Asimo which is able to walk on stairs and shake hands with people.

    Beyond this, the applications to replace human organs are still under continuous research and development. It may take decades before these technologies can be perfected.  References  Rose, L. (2000).

    Cardiovascular System (including the Lymphatic System). Retrieved from the Partners in Assistive Technology Training and Services website: http://webschoolsolutions.com/patts/systems/heart.htm,  on March 08, 2007Unknown.

    (2007). The Lymphatic System. Retrieved from the Cancer Research UK website: http://www.cancerhelp.

    org.uk/help/default.asp?page=117,  on March 08, 2007Unknown. (2007).

    Artificial Heart is Mechanical’s First. Retrieved from the BBC News website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1420737.stm,  on March 09, 2007     

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