The Cardiovascular System

The Cardiovascular (circulatory) system is an organ system that passes nutrients (such as amino acids, electrolytes and lymph), gases, hormones, blood cells, etc. to and from cells in the body to help fight diseases, stabilize body temperature and pH, and to maintain homeostasis. This system may be seen strictly as a blood distribution network, but some consider the circulatory system as composed of the cardiovascular system, which distributes blood, and the lymphatic system, which returns excess filtered blood plasma from the interstitial fluid (between cells) as lymph. While humans, as well as other vertebrates, have a closed cardiovascular system (meaning that the blood never leaves the network of arteries, veins and capillaries), some invertebrate groups have an open cardiovascular system. The most primitive animal phyla lack circulatory systems. The lymphatic system, on the other hand, is an open system providing an accessory route for excess interstitial fluid to get returned to the blood. Two types of fluids move through the cardiovascular system: blood and lymph. Lymph is essentially recycled blood plasma after it has been filtered from the blood cells and returned to the lymphatic system. The blood, heart, and blood vessels form the cardiovascular (from Latin words meaning 'heart'-'vessel') system. The lymph, lymph nodes, and lymph vessels form the lymphatic system. The cardiovascular system and the lymphatic system collectively make up the circulatory system.