The cardiovascular system is responsible for delivering life-sustaining oxygen through the blood vessels to the tissues, organs, muscles and nerves in the body.
The cardiovascular system transports the blood back to the lungs to absorb new oxygen before cycling the freshly oxygenated blood back to your body again. It also carries nutrients essential for cell function and waste products that are released from cells and then eliminated from the body.
Your cardiovascular system plays a critical role in your wellbeing and health. Without a healthy cardiovascular system, you are less likely to have energy to do everyday activities. Having a diseased cardiovascular system can lead to a severely compromised quality of life or even death.
Components of the cardiovascular system
Your heart is at the centre of the cardiovascular system. It is an amazing organ that can be likened to a pump made of muscle. Averaging 300 grams in weight and roughly equivalent to a clenched fist in size, in most people the heart is located to the left of the chest. Via an internal mechanism called cardiac conduction, the heart contracts and relaxes, beating an average of 100,000 times every day to pump around five litres of blood around the body.
Your heart is divided into upper and lower chambers known as atriums and ventricles. Valves regulate how the blood flows through these chambers. The right side of the heart delivers used blood to absorb fresh oxygen. The blood then travels from the lungs to the left side of the heart to be pumped back around the body.
Your lungs are also an important component of the cardiovascular system. They are located on either side of your chest and they are made from a spongy tissue. The diaphragm sits under the lungs and helps the lungs inflate and deflate. On any given day, the average person will breathe 10,000 litres of air, from which oxygen is filtered and sent into the blood supply (the haemoglobin).
The blood vessels
The blood vessels in your body are another integral part of the cardiovascular system. These hollow tubes help move blood through the body. They include arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules and more. The blood vessels transport vital nutrients, oxygen, waste and carbon dioxide, and these are either eliminated or consumed and used.
The blood supply in a human body includes red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. Your blood supply is responsible for the delivery of vital nutrients to cells and for the collection and removal of waste from the body. Haemoglobin in your red blood cells binds with oxygen to carry this vital substance to different parts of the body. The red blood cells will also collect carbon dioxide to the lungs, so we can breathe it out.
Note that other systems in the body are essential to the functioning of the cardiovascular system. For example, the lymphatic system returns a vital fluid, lymph, to the blood supply, making it possible for the cardiovascular system to transport nutrients and oxygen to cells.
Healthy blood pressure
Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the artery walls, and it’s determined by the volume and force of your blood and the size and flexibility of your arteries.
There is a strong emphasis among doctors on monitoring blood pressure because high blood pressure is known as the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease. By keeping your blood pressure within a healthful range, you can minimise your risks of developing cardiovascular disease.
When your doctor measures your blood pressure, the figure is expressed as the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure.
- Systolic blood pressure - This figure represents the pressure in your arteries when your heart is pumping blood.
- Diastolic blood pressure - This represents your blood pressure between heart beats.
What’s considered normal blood pressure depends on the person, age, health, medications taken and other factors. According to the National Heart Foundation, normal is less than 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90 mmHg, while anything higher than 180/110 mmHg is very high.
The importance of cardiovascular health
Poor cardiovascular health can lead to severe symptoms and outcomes, including death. Heart attacks, cardiac arrest, congestive heart failure, irregular heart rhythms and angina pectoris (chest pain) are some of the types and manifestations of cardiovascular disease.
You can usually improve or maintain cardiovascular health by adopting healthful habits. Poor diet and lack of exercise can contribute to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. However, other factors such as genetics, age and family history can also impact cardiovascular health. The following factors are linked to a higher risk of poor cardiovascular health.
- High blood cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight
- Lack of regular exercise
- Poor diet
- Poor drinking habits
How CBHS can help
CBHS is dedicated to helping you maximise your membership benefits for better cardiovascular health.
Chronic disease management programs
CBHS’s chronic disease management programs are designed to assist members who have been identified as being at high risk or who already have a chronic disease. Our Heart Failure and Healthy Heart programmes with Remedy Healthcare provide education and guidance for preventing or managing cardiovascular disease. In addition, you’ll have access to services from allied and medical professionals to support you in your self-management program. Find out more about CBHS’s chronic disease management programs.
Other ways that CBHS can help:
- Health care aids - Members with Extras or packaged cover are eligible to claim for health care aids such as blood pressure monitors.
- Health management programs - Members with Extras or packaged cover are eligible for CBHS’s Wellness Benefits cover. This cover features benefits for non-smoking programs, weight management programs and stress management courses. It also includes cover for yoga, Pilates and gym membership or personal trainer, so you can get active and change your lifestyle for the better at reduced cost.