Course Introduction

In the human body, a division of labour has evolved so that there are numerous different types of cell, each highly specialised and adapted for a particular function. All these cells work together in a co-ordinated manner to achieve ‘health’. Each cell requires an adequate supply of oxygen and other nutrients and needs to get rid of waste products. The fluid environment in which cells exist is called tissue fluid and makes up the internal environment. The temperature, pressure and pH of this internal environment also need to remain within relatively narrow limits in order for cells to function in a healthy and efficient manner. When cells function together to maintain this relatively stable internal environment, a state of homeostasis is achieved, this is comparable with a state of health .

The cells which form the organs and tissues of the respiratory system have a number of roles including the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen. Breathing involves inhaling air containing oxygen and exhaling air with increased amounts of carbon dioxide, a waste product. The cardiovascular system is responsible for the transport of blood, carrying various substances including oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

A variety of physiological needs have to be met in order to remain healthy and these include maintaining the right amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the internal environment and maintaining the right volume of fluids which contribute to sustaining blood pressure.

Observations of breathing rate, pulse rate and blood pressure can provide information about an individual’s state of health.

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