14.1 Case Study: Your Body’s Transportation System

Created by CK-12 Foundation/Adapted by Christine Miller

14.1.1 Airplane Exercise
Figure 14.1.1 Got to keep that blood moving!

Case Study: Flight Risk

Nineteen-year-old Malcolm is about to take his first plane flight. Shortly after he boards the plane and sits down, a man in his late sixties sits next to him in the aisle seat. About half an hour after the plane takes off, the pilot announces that she is turning the seat belt light off, and that it is safe to move around the cabin.

The man in the aisle seat — who has introduced himself to Malcolm as Willie — immediately unbuckles his seat belt and paces up and down the aisle a few times before returning to his seat. After about 45 minutes, Willie gets up again, walks some more, then sits back down and does some foot and leg exercises. After the third time Willie gets up and paces the aisles, Malcolm asks him whether he is walking so much to accumulate steps on a pedometer or fitness tracking device. Willie laughs and says no. He is actually trying to do something even more important for his health — prevent a blood clot from forming in his legs.

Willie explains that he has a chronic condition: heart failure. Although it sounds scary, his condition is currently well-managed, and he is able to lead a relatively normal lifestyle. However, it does put him at risk of developing other serious health conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is when a blood clot occurs in the deep veins, usually in the legs. Air travel — and other situations where a person has to sit for a long period of time — increases the risk of DVT. Willie’s doctor said that he is healthy enough to fly, but that he should walk frequently and do leg exercises to help avoid a blood clot.

As you read this chapter, you will learn about the heart, blood vessels, and blood that make up the cardiovascular system, as well as disorders of the cardiovascular system, such as heart failure. At the end of the chapter you will learn more about why DVT occurs, why Willie has to take extra precautions when he flies, and what can be done to lower the risk of DVT and its potentially deadly consequences.

Chapter Overview: Cardiovascular System

In this chapter, you will learn about the cardiovascular system, which transports substances throughout the body. Specifically, you will learn about:

  • The major components of the cardiovascular system: the heart, blood vessels, and blood.
  • The functions of the cardiovascular system, including transporting needed substances (such as oxygen and nutrients) to the cells of the body, and picking up waste products.
  • How blood is oxygenated through the pulmonary circulation, which transports blood between the heart and lungs.
  • How blood is circulated throughout the body through the systemic circulation.
  • The components of blood — including plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets — and their specific functions.
  • Types of blood vessels — including arteries, veins, and capillaries — and their functions, similarities, and differences.
  • The structure of the heart, how it pumps blood, and how contractions of the heart are controlled.
  • What blood pressure is and how it is regulated.
  • Blood disorders, including anemia, HIV, and leukemia.
  • Cardiovascular diseases (including heart attack, stroke, and angina), and the risk factors and precursors — such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis — that contribute to them.

As you read the chapter, think about the following questions:

  1. What is heart failure?Why do you think it increases the risk of DVT?
  2. What is a blood clot? What are possible health consequences of blood clots?
  3. Why do you think sitting for long periods of time increases the risk of DVT? Why does walking and exercising the legs help reduce this risk?


Figure 14.1.1

aircraft-1583871_1920 [photo] by olivier89 from Pixabay is used under the Pixabay License (https://pixabay.com/de/service/license/).



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Human Biology Copyright © 2020 by Christine Miller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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