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Cardio-Physiology Pt 1: Intro to our body’s Pumping Station

Nurse Mike (Mike Linares)
By SimpleNursing | Published October 5th, 2018
Published October 5th, 2018
human heart illustration showing oxygenated and deoxygenated blood in red and blue

Cardiovascular physiology is primarily focused on getting to know the basic structures of the heart, how these structures work, and what areas are involved in electrical conductivity.

Functions of the Cardiovascular System

Realizing the main functions of the cardiovascular system is necessary for understanding the physiology of the body. With the heart’s intricate pathways of capillaries, arteries, and veins, pumping of oxygen-rich blood, which is one of the primary responsibilities of the cardiovascular system, throughout the body’s entire system is made possible.

Aside from keeping a steady flow of oxygen in the body, the heart and its vessels also perform the following:

  • Transport essential nutrients
  • Remove metabolic toxins and wastes
  • Regulate normal temperature

For more information about how blood flows and distribute oxygen throughout the body, we have prepared a separate video dedicated entirely to that topic. Check it out on our channel.

Hotel Cardiac

Keep in mind that the anatomy portion is different from the electrical part of the heart. So, inside the heart, there are four main chambers, namely:

  • Right atrium
  • Left atrium
  • Right ventricle
  • Left ventricle

We explain every single chamber in a song we’ve created titled, Hotel Cardiac. This is basically a spinoff of the popular song, Hotel California. You can also check the lyrics of that song in our channel so it would be easier for you to memorize and recall how the electrical portion of the cardiovascular system works.

The Rooms

Going back to the Hotel Cardiac song, think of the heart as a four-bedroom suite. Let’s identify each room and what their functions are.

  1. Atriums

As mentioned, the heart has four rooms or chambers, and at the upper portion, there are the attics or what we call as atriums. Atriums are considered as attics because they are comparably smaller than ventricles. These atriums are the receivers of blood either from the rest of the body or the lungs.

  1. Ventricles

Located just below the atriums, the ventricles are the suites of the hearts because they are relatively larger due to their principal objective which is to pump blood to the lungs and out of the heart to the rest of the body. The biggest between the left and right ventricle is the left ventricle which is tasked to pump all the oxygenated blood throughout the various systems. Therefore, if the left ventricle is compromised, the body is doomed.

The Doors

In each of the four bedrooms inside the heart, there are doors which we call valves. These valves are automatic doors that allow blood through the various rooms or suites inside Hotel Cardiac. The sounds, “lub dub,” that are heard when a heart is auscultated are the valves closing.

The Cardiac Gang Sign

The cardiac gang sign, which is just the right hand forming an L like a gun or a loser sign, is a technique that is used to determine the location of the tricuspid and bicuspid valves. By forming an L-shaped figure with your thumb and index finger and closing the rest of the fingers, place the cardiac gang across the chest. Here, you’ll identify that there are two valves at the left side of the heart that is known as the bicuspid valves. On the right side of the heart is where the tricuspid valves are located, which is represented by the three closed fingers.

The Pulmonic and Aortic Valves

The pulmonic and aortic valves create the fundamental sounds that are heard inside the heart. These doors operate through electrical conduction. Currently, the heart is utilizing electricity being transported by the valves.

With that in mind, why is the body not electrocuted? Because the heart is equipped with a zip-lock bag referred to as the pericardium that makes sure electricity flowing inside the heart does not leak to adjacent organs or all over the body.

In part two of our cardiovascular physiology, we will further delve into the process of electrical conduction from one valve and chamber to another. We will tackle the importance of the nodes and branches of the cardiovascular system.

For more nursing-related information that can help you pass major exams, especially the NCLEX®, visit our Simple Nursing website and check out our informative YouTube videos.

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Nurse Mike (Mike Linares)
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