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Key terms and definitions
Aorta: blood vessel carrying blood away from the heart, distributing it to the body.
Arterioles: small blood vessels into which arteries subdivide, taking blood into the capillaries.
Artery: Large blood vessel taking oxygenated blood from the heart to the body. (Exception: the
pulmonary artery takes deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs.)
Atria: the smaller (upper) chambers of the heart (left and right) where blood is oxygenated and
Bicuspid valve: valve between the left atrium and ventricle to prevent blood flowing back into the
left side of the heart.
Blood: classified as a connective tissue. Average total blood volume is about 5 litres.
Blood pressure: force of blood against artery walls caused by heart pumping blood around the body.
Capillaries: microscopic blood vessels which link arteries with veins.
Cardiac output: amount of blood ejected from the heart in one minute.
Cardiovascular: relating to the heart and blood vessels.
Circulatory system: the heart, circulation of the blood and composition of the blood (also known as
the cardio vascular system.)
Deoxygenated blood: blood that does not contain oxygen.
Diastolic blood pressure: blood pressure measured when the heart relaxes.
Haemoglobin: oxygen-carrying substance in red blood cells.
Heartbeat: one complete contraction of the heart.
Heart rate: the number of times the heart beats each minute.
Maximum heart rate: the maximum number of heart beats per minute of which a person is capable.
Oxygenated blood: blood that contains oxygen.
Oxyhaemoglobin: substance which oxygen turns into after gaseous exchange.
Pulmonary artery: blood vessel which carries de-oxygenated blood from the right ventricle of the
heart to the lungs.
Pulmonary circulation: carries deoxygenated blood form our heart to our lungs and oxygenated blood
back to the heart.
Pulmonary vein: blood vessel which carries oxygenated blood from the lungs to the left atrium of
Septum: muscle dividing the left and right sides of the heart.
Sphygmomanometer: device for measuring blood pressure.
Stroke volume: the volume of blood pumped out of the heart by each ventricle during one
Systemic circulation: carries oxygenated blood form the heart to the rest of our body and
deoxygenated blood back to the heart.
Systolic blood pressure: blood pressure measured when the heart forcefully ejects blood.
Tricuspid valve: valve between the right atrium and ventricle to prevent blood flowing back into the
left side of the heart.
Vasoconstriction: where the diameter of a blood vessel decreases as the surrounding muscles
Vasodilatation: where the diameter of a blood vessel increases as the surrounding muscles relax.
Veins: large blood vessels taking deoxygenated blood form the body to the heart. (Exception: the
pulmonary vein takes oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart.)
Ventricle: two larger (lower) chambers of the heart which pump blood around the pulmonary
Venules: small blood vessels that take blood from the capillaries to the veins.
VO2 Max: The maximum amount of oxygen we can transport and use on one minute.