Physiology Essay

1778 words - 8 pages

The Barometric Pressure (total atmospheric pressure) at sea level is 760torr. The atmosphere is 20.9% oxygen so the partial pressure of oxygen in the atmosphere is 160torr. In order for inspiration to occur (atmospheric air to enter the lungs) the diaphragm (the muscle that separates the thoracic and abdominal cavity) receives action potentials and pulls down, increasing the volume of the thoracic cavity (and the lungs). According to Boyle’s Law this increase of volume, decreases the pressure on the lungs below normal 760torr. Because of the pressure gradient between the atmosphere (high pressure=760torr) and the lungs (low pressure<760torr) air rushes into the lungs (inspiration). The ...view middle of the document...

The high concentration of CO2 in the body cells causes CO2 to diffuse into the erythrocytes. The erythrocytes transport the CO2 back to the alveoli (through the veins, superior or inferior vena cava, right atrium, right ventricle, pulmonary artery, then pulmonary capillaries). The partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere is very small, CO2 makes up only 0.04% of the atmosphere, so the partial pressure of CO2 in the lungs is extremely small. Due to the law of partial pressure CO2 diffuses from the erythrocytes to the alveoli while O2 diffuses in the opposite direction based on their own partial pressures. Once the CO2 has diffused into the alveoli the pressure in the lungs exceeds 760torr (is greater than the Barometric Pressure) because the diaphragm returns to its relaxed position (decreasing the volume and increasing the pressure) so expiration occurs (the air in the lungs is released into the environment).
Fick’s Law of Diffusion explains that the rate of diffusion (D) depends on the change in pressure (Δ P), cross section area (CSA) and length (L), D= ΔP * CSA/L. ΔP and CSA are directly related to D so as they increase D increases. A greater difference in P between the area the gas is diffusing from and the area it is diffusing to causes diffusion to occur faster. A greater CSA provides more area for gas exchange to occur so it allows diffusion to occur faster. L is inversely related to diffusion, so as the distance a gas has to travel in order to diffuse increases, diffusion occurs more slowly.
Emphysema caused by cigarette smoking activates enzymes that destroy the elastic fibers that hold open alveoli and bronchioles. This causes the alveoli and bronchioles to collapse and shrivel, decreasing CSA. There is no known treatment to repair or replace elastic fibers and the L is already as short as possible so the only treatment is increasing ΔP by increasing the percent of O2 inhaled through an oxygen tank and nasal prongs, this increase the partial pressure of O2 in the lungs. Pulmonary Edema is the build up of fluid between the alveoli and capillaries, increasing L. CSA cannot be increased so increasing ΔP again is the only way to counteract this condition and increase diffusion.
Essay Question 2 Exam 2: In the space below draw a human heart and identify all of the important structures involved with blood flow (chambers, valves, etc.) and electrical conduction (S.A. node, bundle of His, etc.) Next explain in detail how the spread of the electrical potential across the heart causes it to contract and cause one-way flow of blood making sure to discuss how the spread of the action potential causes the 5 phases of the cardiac cycle. Lastly, explain the 2 major heart sounds and identify how mitral stenosis would sound.

The Cardiac Cycle is the 5 steps of a heartbeat: Passive Filling, Active Filling, Isovolumetric Contraction, Ejection Phase and Ventricular Relaxation. Passive Filling is the filling up of the ventricles with blood...

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