Anatomy And Physiology

Blood Flow

Paul Manalo's image for:
"Blood Flow"
Image by: 

If a person can just see with bionic eyes, he or she would see that our body is filled with blood. Blood flow is very important in maintaining homeostasis or balance in a person’s normal functioning. Any alteration in blood flow could lead to adverse health effects in the person. Below are some of the factors that affect blood flow in humans.

Increase in Blood Viscosity

Diabetes is one of the many medical conditions that slow down blood flow. In diabetes, there is an elevated level of sugar in the blood. This increase in glucose causes the blood to be viscous or thicker causing the flow to decrease. Imagine making a fruit shake, the more you add fruits, the slower it pours on the glass when u transfer it from the blender. However, if you add more water, the solution pours more easily and faster on the glass. This means that the higher the solute content of the blood (e.g. sugar), the slower it flows.

Obstruction in blood vessels

Blood flow is also altered when the pathway for blood flow in the blood vessels is blocked. Atherosclerosis is an example of this factor causing slower blood flow. Atherosclerosis occurs when plaques form on the walls of the blood vessels. To illustrate, the blood vessel can be likened to a water pipe. Without any obstruction, the water flows smoothly without any interruption. However, if an object sticks to the walls of the pipe, the overall diameter of the pathway is reduced due to the blockage causing the water flow to slow down. This is what happens in atherosclerosis in which fats build up on the walls of the blood vessels causing obstruction of blood flow.

Use of marijuana

Factors affecting blood flow not only slows down the flow but also, some factors can cause an increase in the blood flow. An example is the use of marijuana. Research findings show that there is an increase in the velocity of the flow of blood in the brain among marijuana users. Because of this increased blood flow to the brain, marijuana users find it difficult to think or remember recent events because their brain is functioning too fast.

There are different factors that affect blood flow in different parts of the body. Blood flow can be affected by the composition of the blood itself (i.e. concentration of solutes), the diameter of blood vessels, and presence of chemical substances that can alter blood flow.

More about this author: Paul Manalo

From Around the Web