Key messages

• The function of the systemic circulation is to transport oxygen and nutrients to tissues and remove the products of cellular metabolism via the cardiac output and the regional blood flow.

• Cardiac output is the product of heart rate, determined by the intrinsic electrical properties of the heart and extrinsic neural influences, and stroke volume, determined by the energy of contraction of the myocytes, the resistance against which blood is ejected. These are modulated by neural, humoral, and chemical factors.

• Blood flow is laminar in arteries, arterioles, venules, and veins. It is turbulent in the ventricles and single file in capillaries.

• Arterioles represent the major component of the peripheral resistance.

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