Decoding Vascular Health: Understanding Your Circulatory System

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
February 27, 2024

The circulatory system is also known as the vascular system. Whatever name you call it, it’s made up of the vessels that carry blood and lymph throughout the body. It plays an invaluable role in not just the movement of blood but the overall function of the body. 

By better understanding the vascular system, we can better understand how it affects those other parts of the body. This can make it difficult to decode just exactly how the circulatory system can affect other organs. That’s why today we’ll be decoding vascular health so you can better understand your circulatory system.

What Does the Circulatory System Do?

It’s clear what the circulatory is, but what does the circulatory system do? Why does your blood need to move through your body at all? Blood moves through arteries and veins, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the tissue and removing waste. This circulation allows the rest of the body’s systems to remain oxygenated and efficiently work.

In addition, lymph vessels carry a clear, colorless fluid called lymphatic fluid. This fluid contains water and blood cells and is generated by the lymph nodes throughout the body. By moving through the lymphatic system, lymphatic fluid protects and maintains the fluid environment of the body.

On top of these important jobs, the circulatory system has important functions to keep the rest of your body working in top condition. Here are some examples.

Respiratory System

As mentioned above, the circulatory system moves oxygenated blood to other body parts. In addition, it returns the deoxygenated blood back to the lungs to repeat the process. Without the circulatory system, no matter how much air you breathe in, your body wouldn’t get the oxygen it needs.

Digestive System

When food is digested, blood flows into small veins called capillaries into the intestines. This blood picks up digested nutrients like sugar, vitamins, or minerals to deliver to different body parts. Without the circulatory system to move these nutrients around, they’d remain inside the digesting food.

Kidneys and Urinary System

Waste materials filtered by the blood must be sent out of the body. That’s where the kidneys and urinary system come in. When blood flows through the kidneys, any impurities and waste materials are filtered out. This waste material then leaves the body in the form of urine. Working together, the blood and kidneys purify the body and help keep it clean.

Temperature Control

Blood flow helps your body regulate its internal temperature. The processes of the body’s tissues as blood moves through them generate heat as a byproduct. This produces body heat, and the body can use this to heat itself more by pumping more blood. This makes blood flow an invaluable component of temperature control.

Circulatory System Function and Dysfunction

The circulatory system function most frequently happens quietly and uneventfully inside us daily. It’s only when there’s a dysfunction in that system that many of us are consciously aware of its movements. These problems are most commonly seen as symptoms of vascular disease.

Vascular disease is any condition affecting the arteries and veins. Vascular disease may affect blood flow by blocking or weakening blood vessels. It may also damage the valves found in the veins, affecting pressure and flow.

A vascular disease is a condition that affects the arteries and veins. Most often, vascular disease affects blood flow, either by blocking or weakening blood vessels or by damaging the valves that are found in veins. Organs and other body structures may be damaged by vascular disease due to decreased or completely blocked blood flow.

What Causes Vascular Disease?

There are several potential causes of vascular disease. One of the most prevalent is atherosclerosis, caused by a buildup called plaque on the inner lining of the artery. This plaque comprises a mix of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium, and fibrin. It’s unknown how exactly it starts or what causes it. However it starts, it has the potential to increase rapidly, causing blockages and decreasing affected blood flow.

Blood vessels may also be blocked by either an embolus (tiny masses of debris) or a thrombus (a blood clot). Inflamed blood vessels caused by a range of disorders can lead to a condition called vasculitis. This inflammation further narrows and blocks the movement of blood vessels.

Trauma or injury can similarly narrow or block the blood vessels, and certain genetic conditions can further exacerbate these issues. Whichever cause (or combination of causes) is the factor, these vascular dysfunctions cause major circulatory system problems.

What Effects Does Vascular Disease Cause?

With all these potential causes, it’s easy to see just how many potential problems vascular disease has. Similarly, since it's linked to so many other systems, a problem with the circulatory system can easily affect additional systems. 

Here’s just a brief overview of some effects vascular disease causes:

  • Coronary artery disease (e.g., heart attack or angina)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (including stroke and transient ischemic attack [or TIA])
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (or PAD, can cause claudication limping because of pain, or critical limb ischemia)
  • Aortic Aneurysm
  • Peripheral Venous Diseases, including Deep Vein Thrombosis and varicose veins
  • Lymphatic Vascular Diseases, such as lymphedema (swelling caused by irregular or interrupted drainage in the lymph nodes)
  • Kidney vascular diseases, including renal artery stenosis and fibromuscular dysplasia
  • Vascular erectile dysfunction (impotence)

Get a Better Understanding of Your Circulatory System with South Valley Vascular

Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ve begun decoding the circulatory system and its movements. However, it’s only scratching the surface about how it could affect you and your health. 

If you’re curious to learn more, schedule a visit with a vascular specialist from South Valley Vascular. They can recommend treatments to improve your vascular health and methods to maintain it better. Contact South Valley Vascular today to schedule your appointment.