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Functions of blood

• Transport of O2 + nutrients (organic: glucose, vitamins, amino acids, fatty

acids and glycerol; inorganic; ions i.e. Na+, K+, Cl-, Ca2+ and I-) to all body cells
• Transport of CO2 + wastes (metabolic wastes; organic: urea, creatinine and
uric acid) away from cells
• Transport of chemical messengers aka. hormones to cells
• Maintaining pH of body fluids
• Distributing heat and maintaining body temperature
• Maintaining water content and ion concentration of body fluids
• Protection against disease-causing micro-organisms
Red blood cells are suited to their functions because they:
- Contain haemoglobin, which combine with O2
- Have no nucleus = more room for haemoglobin
- Are shaped like biconcave discs = larger surface area
Blood component Diagram Features/function
Plasma (55%) 91% H2O, 9% dissolved substances
i.e. nutrients, ions, gases, hormones,
plasma proteins and wastes

Formed elements No nucleus; red (from haemoglobin +

(45%) O2); produced in red bone marrow;
Erythrocytes (red destroyed in liver & spleen; contain
blood cells) haemoglobin to transport O2

Leucocytes (white Remove dead or injured cells ad

blood cells) invading micro-organisms; produced
- Monocyte & in yellow bone marrow
lymphocyte - monocyte & lymphocyte: spherical
nucleus; agranular cytoplasm
-Granulocyte - granulocyte: granular cytoplasm;
lobed nucleus
Thrombocytes No nucleus; formed in red bone
(platelets) marrow; assists in blood clotting
Transport of O2
• O2 is not soluble in water (~3% is carried in solution in plasma)
• 97% is carried in combination of haemoglobin (Hb) molecules found in red
blood cells when the O2 concentration is high i.e. in capillaries in lungs
• Hb + O2 → ← HbO2 (oxyhaemoglobin)
• Oxyhaemoglobin breaks down to haemoglobin + O2 where O2 concentration is
low i.e. tissue fluids surrounding cells
• Oxygenated blood: blood with high proportion of oxyhaemoglobin (red in
colour); Deoxygenated blood: purplish/dark red due to haemoglobin

Transport of CO2
• ~7-8% dissolved in plasma & carried in solution
• ~22% combines with the globin part of haemoglobin to form
• ~70% carried in plasma as bicarbonate ions, HCO3- - when they reacts with
H2) to form carbonic acid, H2CO3- – which then breaks down into H+ + HCO3-
← ←
• CO2 + H2O → H2CO3 → H+ + HCO3-
• In the alveoli, carbaminohaemoglobin breaks down to release CO2; H+ +
HCO3- combines to form H2CO3, which then breaks down (under enzyme
action) to water + CO2
pulmonary bicuspid valve
semilunar valve
semilunar valve


chordae tendonae
Part of heart Function
Pulmonary artery Carries blood from heart to lungs

Pulmonary vein Carries blood from lungs

Superior vena cava Carries blood from upper body back to


Inferior vena cava Carries blood from lower body back to


Aorta Pumps blood from left ventricle to the

whole body

Semilunar valves Prevent backflow of blood from arteries

into ventricles
Part of heart Function

Tricuspid and bicuspid Prevent backflow of blood from

valves ventricles into atria
Chordae tendonae Anchor the valves; stop them from
opening in the wrong direction
Septum Muscle dividing the heart into 2
Atria (sing. atrium) Pumps blood into ventricles

Ventricles Pumps blood into arteries

Apex Contains cells that stimulate

contractions; sends electrical pulses
to ventricles from right atrium
The heart and blood vessels
• Made up of cardiac muscle; surrounded by pericardium (prevents the heart
from overstretching
The cardiac cycle aka. heartbeat
• Systole: pumping phase; heart muscle contracts (simultaneously)
• - Atrial systole: contraction of the atria – forcing blood into ventricles
• - Ventricular systole: ventricles contract – forcing blood into arteries; atria
relaxes and refill
• Diastole: filling phase; heart muscle relaxes
• For a short time, both atria and ventricles are in diastole (atria refill and
ventricles receive blood as valves open)

Cardiac output
• The amount of blood leaving one of the ventricles every minute
•Cardiac output (mL) = stroke volume (mL) x heart rate (beats/minute)
Function Structure Pressure of blood

Artery (small. carry blood away Thick, muscular, Increases as

arterioles) from the heart elastic walls; elastic ventricles
(except for fibres, muscle, thin contract;
pulmonary lining and connective decreases as
arteries which tissue; smaller ventricles relax
carry blood) passageways than but still relatively
veins high

Vein (small. carry blood to the Relatively thinner, Constant,

venules) heart (except for inelastic walls; relatively low
pulmonary veins structure similar to blood pressure
which carry arteries; have valves
blood) (stop blood backflow)

Capillaries Carry blood Extremely thin; a single High

between cells; layer of cells
link arterioles to
Blood flow in arteries
• Arterial walls stretch when ventricles contract, and recoils when
ventricles relax
• Vasoconstriction: a decrease in diameter of blood vessels, restricting
the blood flow
• Vasodilation: an increase in diameter of blood vessels, increasing
blood flow
• Vasodilator: a substance that produces a local widening (dilation) of
blood vessels
• Veins cannot change their diameter
Responding to the body’s demands; regulating cardiac output
• SA node (sinoatrial node) from right atrium acts as a ‘pacemaker’ for
the heart; begins each cardiac cycle with nerve impulses from the
cardiovascular regulating centre in the nervous system that spread out
over the atria causing them to contract
Regulating blood flow
• Blood flow = amount of blood flowing through an organ/blood vessel in a given
time (mL/min)
• Determined by cardiac output, and diameter of arterioles.
• Adrenaline (aka. epinephrine) – a hormone – causes vasoconstriction of most
arterioles, and vasodilation in skeletal muscles and heart muscle
Changes in blood flow during exercise
• Activity of skeletal muscles increases – thus, more blood supply is needed for
extra required O2 and nutrients, and to remove CO2 and heat produced
• To increase blood supply to muscles, the nervous system & adrenaline cause
constriction of blood vessels in internal organs i.e. stomach, intestines – and
dilation of blood vessels in the muscles
• Wastes produced i.e. CO2, lactic acid act as vasodilators (widening the
arterioles) – this results in increased blood flow through muscle tissues
• Heat produced by cells from cellular respiration contribute to an increase in
heart rate