Student Question

How do the respiratory and circulatory systems work together?

Quick answer:

The respiratory and circulatory systems work together in that the respiratory system introduces oxygen to the body and transfers it into the blood stream while the circulatory system transports the oxygenated blood to the other organs.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The respiratory system and the circulatory system work nonstop. The respiratory system is dependent on the circulatory system and vice versa, as the heart cannot work without the oxygen it receives from the lungs and the respiratory system cannot function properly without the help of the circulatory system, because the circulatory system transports the oxygen and blood to the entire body and thus ensures that the body is working properly.

The main organ of the respiratory system, the lungs, and the main organ of the circulatory system, the heart, connect these two systems.

When we inhale, the air, which contains oxygen and other nutrients, travels through the lungs (specifically through the bronchi) and reaches the alveoli, which are surrounded by small capillaries or blood vessels. The oxygen is then transferred from the alveoli into the red blood cells (erythrocytes); the hemoglobin, an iron-containing protein in the red blood cells, carries the oxygen through the body and to all of the organs and tissues.

Carbon dioxide, which is a waste product of the process of cellular respiration, is released from the blood; it travels from the blood cells into the capillaries and then to the lungs, from where it's released when we breathe out.

The blood that is rich with oxygen (oxygenated blood) travels from the lungs, though the pulmonary vein, and into the left ventricle of the heart, which pumps the blood into the arteries. The arteries (which are made of arterioles and the capillaries I've mentioned) then carry the blood around the body and supply it with oxygen. The blood that contains carbon dioxide travels through the pulmonary artery and the veins to the right ventricle of the heart, which pumps the deoxygenated blood into the lungs; from there, the carbon dioxide and other waste products leave the body as we exhale.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Evaluate how cardiovascular system and respiratory system work together.

The respiratory system is the set of organs responsible for getting oxygen into your body and getting carbon dioxide out of your body.  Primarily, this concerns the lungs and the alveoli, where the gaseous exchange occurs.

The cardiovascular system is the set of organs responsible for delivering blood to every cell in your body.  This would include the heart, the arteries, the veins, and the capillaries.

The heart moves the blood every time the ventricles contract.  Blood is sent to the lungs for two reasons: 1) to get rid of waste products, mainly carbon dioxide, and 2) to pick up life-giving oxygen.  The blood dumps it's load of carbon dioxide in the capillaries of the alveoli in the lungs.  You exhale the carbon dioxide, while in the next instant you inhale a fresh load of oxygen.  The oxygen diffuses across the alveoli's capillaries into the blood, which is returned to the heart.  The heart then sends the freshly oxygenated blood throughout the network of arteries, capillaries, and veins.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on