(1) Left ventricle of the heart. The oxygen-saturated blood is moved from the left atrium into the left ventricle. When the left ventricular wall contracts, the pressure closes the mitral valve, which prevents blood from returning to the left atrium. The contraction of the left ventricular wall therefore forces the blood through the aortic semilunar valve into the aortic arch. Upon relaxation of the left ventricular wall, the back pressure of the aortic arch forces the aortic semilunar valve closed.
(2) Arterial distributions. The blood then passes through the various arteries to the tissues of the body. See figure 9-5 for an illustration of the main arteries of the human body.
(a) The carotid arteries supply the head. The neck and upper members are supplied by the subclavian arteries.
(b) The aortic arch continues as a large single vessel known as the aorta passing down through the trunk of the body in front of the vertebral column. It gives off branches to the trunk wall and to the contents of the trunk.
(c) At the lower end of the trunk, the aorta divides into right and left iliac arteries, supplying the pelvic region and lower members.
(3) Capillary beds of the body tissues. In the capillary beds of the tissues of the body, materials (such as food, oxygen, and waste products) are exchanged between the blood and the cells of the body.
(4) Venous tributaries. See figure 9-6 for an illustration of the main veins of the human body.
(a) The blood from the capillaries among the tissues is collected by a venous system parallel to the arteries. This system of deep veins returns the blood back to the right atrium of the heart.
(b) In the subcutaneous layer, immediately beneath the skin, is a network of superficial veins draining the skin areas. These superficial veins collect and then join the deep veins in the axillae (armpits) and the inguinal region (groin).
(c) The superior vena cava collects the blood from the head, neck, and upper members. The inferior vena cava collects the blood from the rest of the body. As the final major veins, the venae cavae empty the returned blood into the right atrium of heart.
(d) The veins are generally supplied with valves to assist in making the blood flow toward the heart. It is of some interest to note that the veins from the head do not contain valves.
(e) From that portion of the gut where materials are absorbed through the walls into the capillaries, the blood receives a great variety of substances. While most of these substances are useful, some may be harmful to the body. The blood carrying these substances is carried directly to the liver by the hepatic portal venous system. This blood is specially treated and conditioned in the liver before it is returned to the general circulation by way of the hepatic veins.
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