The cardiovascular (CV) system is composed of the heart, which is essentially a muscular pump, and an extensive network of blood vessels. The main purpose of the CV system, also called the circulatory system, is to deliver oxygen, nutrients, and other essential substances to body cells and remove waste products of cellular metabolism. This process is carried out by a complex network of blood vessels that includes arteries, capillaries, and veins—all of which are connected to the heart. A healthy CV system is vital to a person’s survival.
A CV system that does not provide adequate circulation deprives tissues of oxygen and nutrients and fails to remove waste, resulting in irreversible changes to cells that could be life-threatening. The lymphatic system is closely linked to the CV system. It depends on the pumping action of the heart to circulate its substances throughout the body. The lymphatic system consists of a network of vessels and nodes, and a few specialized organs including the tonsils, thymus, and spleen. (See Figure Interrelationship of the cardiovascular system with the lymphatic system. Blood flows from the heart to blood capillaries and back to the heart. Lymph capillaries collect tissue fluid, which is returned to the blood. The arrows indicate direction of flow of the blood and lymph..)
Interrelationship of the cardiovascular system with the lymphatic system. Blood flows from the heart to blood capillaries and back to the heart. Lymph capillaries collect tissue fluid, which is returned to the blood. The arrows indicate direction of flow of the blood and lymph.
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