Blood | Health Dictionary

Blood consists of cellular components suspended in plasma. It circulates through the blood vessels, carrying oxygen and nutrients to the organs and removing carbon dioxide and other waste products for excretion. In addition, it is the vehicle by which hormones and other humoral transmitters reach their sites of action.

Composition The cellular components are red cells or corpuscles (ERYTHROCYTES), white cells (LEUCOCYTES and lymphocytes – see LYMPHOCYTE), and platelets.

The red cells are biconcave discs with a diameter of 7.5µm. They contain haemoglobin

– an iron-containing porphyrin compound, which takes up oxygen in the lungs and releases it to the tissue.

The white cells are of various types, named according to their appearance. They can leave the circulation to wander through the tissues. They are involved in combating infection, wound healing, and rejection of foreign bodies. Pus consists of the bodies of dead white cells.

Platelets are the smallest cellular components and play an important role in blood clotting (see COAGULATION).

Erythrocytes are produced by the bone marrow in adults and have a life span of about 120 days. White cells are produced by the bone

marrow and lymphoid tissue. Plasma consists of water, ELECTROLYTES and plasma proteins; it comprises 48–58 per cent of blood volume. Plasma proteins are produced mainly by the liver and by certain types of white cells. Blood volume and electrolyte composition are closely regulated by complex mechanisms involving the KIDNEYS, ADRENAL GLANDS and HYPOTHALAMUS.



Blood | Health Dictionary

Keywords of this word: Blood


ABO BLOOD GROUPS

Medical Dictionary

See BLOOD GROUPS.... Medical Dictionary

AUTOLOGOUS BLOOD TRANSFUSION

Medical Dictionary

See TRANSFUSION – Transfusion of blood.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD BANK

Medical Dictionary

A department in which blood products are prepared, stored, and tested prior to transfusion into patients.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD BRAIN BARRIER

Medical Dictionary

A functional, semi-permeable membrane separating the brain and cerebrospinal ?uid from the blood. It allows small and lipid-soluble molecules to pass freely but is impermeable to large or ionised molecules and cells.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD CLOT

Medical Dictionary

A blood clot arises when blood comes into contact with a foreign surface – for example, damaged blood vessels – or when tissue factors are released from damaged tissue. An initial plug of PLATELETS is converted to a de?nitive clot by the deposition of FIBRIN, which is formed by the clotting cascade and erythrocytes. (See COAGULATION.)... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD CORPUSCLE

Medical Dictionary

See ERYTHROCYTES and LEUCOCYTES.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD COUNT

Medical Dictionary

The number of each of the cellular components per litre of blood. It may be calculated using a microscope or by an automated process.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD DONOR

Medical Dictionary

An individual who donates his or her own blood for use in patients of compatible blood group who require transfusion.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD GASES

Medical Dictionary

Speci?cally, this describes the measurement of the tensions of oxygen and carbon dioxide in blood. However, it is commonly used to describe the analysis of a sample of heparinised arterial blood for measurement of oxygen, carbon dioxide, oxygen saturation, pH, bicarbonate, and base excess (the amount of acid required to return a unit volume of the blood to normal pH). These values are vital in monitoring the severity of illness in patients receiving intensive care or who have severe respiratory illness, as they provide a guide to the e?ectiveness of oxygen transport between the outside air and the body tissues. Thus they are both a guide to whether the patient is being optimally ventilated, and also a general guide to the severity of their illness.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD GROUPS

Medical Dictionary

People are divided into four main groups in respect of a certain reaction of the blood. This depends upon the capacity of the serum of one person’s blood to cause the red cells of another’s to stick together (agglutinate). The reaction depends on antigens (see ANTIGEN), known as agglutinogens, in the erythrocytes and on ANTIBODIES, known as agglutinins, in the serum. There are two of each, the agglutinogens being known as A and B. A person’s erythrocytes may have (1) no agglutinogens, (2) agglutinogen A, (3) agglutinogen B, (4) agglutinogens A and B: these are the four groups. Since the identi?cation of the ABO and Rhesus factors (see below), around 400 other antigens have been discovered, but they cause few problems over transfusions.

In blood transfusion, the person giving and the person receiving the blood must belong to the same blood group, or a dangerous reaction will take place from the agglutination that occurs when blood of a di?erent group is present. One exception is that group O Rhesus-negative blood can be used in an emergency for anybody.

Rhesus factor In addition to the A and B agglutinogens (or antigens), there is another one known as the Rhesus (or Rh) factor – so named because there is a similar antigen in the red blood corpuscles of the Rhesus monkey. About 84 per cent of the population have this Rh factor in their blood and are therefore known as ‘Rh-positive’. The remaining 16 per cent who do not possess the factor are known as ‘Rh-negative’.

The practical importance of the Rh factor is that, unlike the A and B agglutinogens, there are no naturally occurring Rh antibodies. However, such antibodies may develop in a Rh-negative person if the Rh antigen is introduced into his or her circulation. This can occur (a) if a Rh-negative person is given a transfusion of Rh-positive blood, and (b) if a Rh-negative mother married to a Rh-positive husband becomes pregnant and the fetus is Rh-positive. If the latter happens, the mother develops Rh antibodies which can pass into the fetal circulation, where they react with the baby’s Rh antigen and cause HAEMOLYTIC DISEASE of the fetus and newborn. This means that, untreated, the child may be stillborn or become jaundiced shortly after birth.

As about one in six expectant mothers is Rh-negative, a blood-group examination is now considered an essential part of the antenatal examination of a pregnant woman. All such Rh-negative expectant mothers are now given a ‘Rhesus card’ showing that they belong to the rhesus-negative blood group. This card should always be carried with them. Rh-positive blood should never be transfused to a Rh-negative girl or woman.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD PRESSURE

Medical Dictionary

Blood pressure is that pressure which must be applied to an artery in order to stop the pulse beyond the point of pressure. It may be roughly estimated by feeling the pulse at the wrist, or accurately measured using a SPHYGMOMANOMETER. It is dependent on the pumping force of the heart, together with the volume of blood, and on the elasticity of the blood vessels.

The blood pressure is biphasic, being greatest (systolic pressure) at each heartbeat and falling (diastolic pressure) between beats. The average systolic pressure is around 100 mm Hg in children and 120 mm Hg in young adults, generally rising with age as the arteries get thicker and harder. Diastolic pressure in a healthy young adult is about 80 mm Hg, and a rise in diastolic pressure is often a surer indicator of HYPERTENSION than is a rise in systolic pressure; the latter is more sensitive to changes of body position and emotional mood. Hypertension has various causes, the most important of which are kidney disease (see KIDNEYS, DISEASES OF), genetic predisposition and, to some extent, mental stress. Systolic pressure may well be over 200 mm Hg. Abnormal hypertension is often accompanied by arterial disease (see ARTERIES, DISEASES OF) with an increased risk of STROKE, heart attack and heart failure (see HEART, DISEASES OF). Various ANTIHYPERTENSIVE DRUGS are available; these should be carefully evaluated, considering the patient’s full clinical history, before use.

HYPOTENSION may result from super?cial vasodilation (for example, after a bath, in fevers or as a side-e?ect of medication, particularly that prescribed for high blood pressure) and occur in weakening diseases or heart failure. The blood pressure generally falls on standing, leading to temporary postural hypotension – a particular danger in elderly people.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD ROOT

Herbal Manual

Sanguinaria canadensis. N.O. Papaveraceae.

Habitat: Widely distributed throughout North America.

Features ? Root reddish-brown, wrinkled lengthwise, about half-inch thick. Fracture short. Section whitish, with many small, red resin cells which sometimes suffuse the whole. Heavy odour, bitter and harsh to the taste.

Part used ? Root.

Action: Stimulant, tonic, expectorant.

Pulmonary complaints and bronchitis. Should be administered in whooping-cough and croup until emesis occurs. The powdered root is used as a snuff in nasal catarrh, and externally in ringworm and other skin eruptions. The American Thomsonians use it in the treatment of adenoids. Dose, 10 to 20 grains of the powdered root.... Herbal Manual

BLOOD TEST

Medical Dictionary

Removal of venous, capillary or arterial blood for haematological, microbiological or biochemical laboratory investigations.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD TRANSFUSION

Medical Dictionary

See TRANSFUSION – Transfusion of blood.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD VESSEL

Medical Dictionary

Tube through which blood is conducted from or to the heart. Blood from the heart is conducted via arteries and arterioles through capillaries and back to the heart via venules and then veins. (See ARTERIES and VEINS.)... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD, DISEASES OF

Medical Dictionary

See ANAEMIA; LEUKAEMIA; LYMPHOMA; MYELOMATOSIS; THROMBOSIS.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD-LETTING

Medical Dictionary

See VENESECTION.... Medical Dictionary

BLOOD-POISONING

Medical Dictionary

See SEPTICAEMIA.... Medical Dictionary

BLOODROOT

Love, Protection, Purification...

CIRCULATORY SYSTEM OF THE BLOOD

Medical Dictionary

The course of the circulation is as follows: the veins pour their blood, coming from the head, trunk, limbs and abdominal organs, into the right atrium of the HEART. This contracts and drives the blood into the right ventricle, which then forces the blood into the LUNGS by way of the pulmonary artery. Here it is contained in thin-walled capillaries, over which the air plays freely, and through which gases pass readily out and in. The blood gives o? carbon dioxide (CO2) and takes up oxygen (see RESPIRATION), and passes on by the pulmonary veins to the left atrium of the heart. The left atrium expels it into the left ventricle, which forces it on into the aorta, by which it is distributed all over the body. Passing through capillaries in the various tissues, it enters venules, then veins, which ultimately unite into two great veins, the superior and the inferior vena cava, these emptying into the right atrium. This complete circle is accomplished by any particular drop of blood in about half a minute.

In one part of the body there is a further complication. The veins coming from the bowels, charged with food material and other products, split up, and their blood undergoes a second capillary circulation through the liver. Here it is relieved of some food material and puri?ed, and then passes into the inferior vena cava, and so to the right atrium. This is known as the portal circulation.

The circle is maintained always in one direction by four valves, situated one at the outlet from each cavity of the heart.

The blood in the arteries going to the body generally is bright red, that in the veins dull red in colour, owing to the former being charged with oxygen and the latter with carbon dioxide (see RESPIRATION). For the same reason the blood in the pulmonary artery is dark, that in the pulmonary veins is bright. There is no direct communication between the right and left sides of the heart, the blood passing from the right ventricle to the left atrium through the lungs.

In the embryo, before birth, the course of circulation is somewhat di?erent, owing to the fact that no nourishment comes from the bowels nor air into the lungs. Accordingly, two large arteries pass out of the navel, and convey blood to be changed by contact with maternal blood (see PLACENTA), while a large vein brings this blood back again. There are also communications between the right and left atria, and between pulmonary artery and aorta. The latter is known as the ductus arteriosus. At birth all these extra vessels and connections close and rapidly shrivel up.... Medical Dictionary

DEFECTIVE BLOOD FORMATION

Medical Dictionary

This is the main cause of anaemia in infections. The micro-organism responsible for the infection has a deleterious e?ect upon the blood-forming organs, just as it does upon other parts of the body.

Toxins. In conditions such as chronic glomerulonephritis (see KIDNEYS, DISEASES OF) and URAEMIA there is a severe anaemia due to the e?ect of the disease upon blood formation.

Drugs. Certain drugs, such as aspirin and the non-steroidal anti-in?ammatory drugs, may cause occult gastrointestinal bleeding.... Medical Dictionary

DRAGONS BLOOD

Love, Protection, Exorcism, Potency...

FETAL BLOOD SAMPLING

Medical Dictionary

A procedure performed during a mother’s labour in which a blood sample is taken from a vein in the scalp of the FETUS. This enables tests to be performed that indicate whether the fetus is, for example, su?ering from a shortage of oxygen (HYPOXIA). If so, the obstetrician will usually accelerate the baby’s birth.... Medical Dictionary

LOSS OF BLOOD

Medical Dictionary

As a result of trauma. This is perhaps the simplest example of all, when, as a result of an accident involving a large artery, there is severe haemorrhage.

Menstruation. The regular monthly loss of blood which women sustain as a result of menstruation always puts a strain on the blood-forming organs. If this loss is excessive, then over a period of time it may lead to quite severe anaemia.

Childbirth. A considerable amount of blood is always lost at childbirth; if this is severe, or if the woman was anaemic during pregnancy, a severe degree of anaemia may develop.

Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract. The best example here is anaemia due to ‘bleeding piles’ (see HAEMORRHOIDS). Such bleeding, even though slight, is a common cause of anaemia in both men and women if maintained over a long period of time. The haemorrhage may be more acute and occur from a DUODENAL ULCER or gastric ulcer (see STOMACH, DISEASES OF), when it is known as haematemesis.

Certain blood diseases, such as PURPURA and HAEMOPHILIA, which are characterised by bleeding.... Medical Dictionary

NATIONAL BLOOD AUTHORITY

Medical Dictionary

This body manages regional TRANSFUSION centres. Among its aims are the maintenance and promotion of blood and blood products based on a system of voluntary donors; implementing a cost-e?ective national strategy for ensuring adequate supplies of blood and its products to meet national needs; and ensuring high standards of safety and quality.... Medical Dictionary

PERIPHERAL-BLOOD STEM-CELL TRANSPLANTS

Medical Dictionary

These have almost completely replaced BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT, used to treat malignancies such as LEUKAEMIA and LYMPHOMA for the past 20 years. The high doses of CHEMOTHERAPY or RADIOTHERAPY used to treat these diseases destroy the bone marrow which contains stem cells from which all the blood cells derive. In 1989 stem cells were found in the blood during recovery from chemotherapy. By giving growth factors (cytokines), the number of stem cells in the blood increased for about three to four days. In a peripheral-blood stem-cell transplant, these cells can be separated from the peripheral blood, without a general anaesthetic. The cells taken by either method are then frozen and returned intravenously after the chemotherapy or radiotherapy is completed. Once transplanted, the stem cells usually take less than three weeks to repopulate the blood, compared to a month or more for a bone marrow transplant. This means that there is less risk of infection or bleeding during the recovery from the transplant. The whole procedure has a mortality risk of less than 5 per cent – half the risk of a bone marrow transplant.... Medical Dictionary

RED BLOOD CELL

Medical Dictionary

See ERYTHROCYTES; BLOOD.... Medical Dictionary

TEA FOR BLOOD PRESSURE

Beneficial Teas

As a natural beverage, a cup of tea brings you many health benefits. One of them is related to blood pressure. Based on the type of tea you drink, it can help lower your blood pressure. Find out more about teas for blood pressure! Problems with blood pressure Blood pressure represents the pressure made by the circulating blood on the walls of the blood vessels. However, problems appear in the case of hypertension and hypotension. Hypertension is a medical condition caused by a high blood pressure, while hypotension is caused by a low blood pressure. Both can be treated with one of the various types of tea for blood pressure. Tea for high blood pressure If you’ve got problems with hypertension (high blood pressure), hibiscus tea can help, as it is known to lower blood pressure. You can also pick one of these herbal teas: chrysanthemum tea, flax tea, periwinkle tea, red root tea, self-heal tea, white peony root tea, valerian tea, or wild cherry bark tea. You can also drink hyssop tea, barberry tea, and rosemary tea, regardless of the blood pressure problem. These three teas will help regulate your blood pressure and reduce the risk of getting either high or low blood pressure problems. Tea for low blood pressure In the case of hypotension (low blood pressure), some of the teas you can try include lovage tea, ephedra tea, wu yi tea, cat’s claw tea, vervain tea, or wheatgrass tea. Black tea can help too, though you have to be careful with it as it has a high content of caffeine. Forbidden teas for blood pressure problems There are several teas which you should avoid drinking, no matter if you’ve got problems with high blood pressure or low blood pressure. The list of teas you shouldn’t drink includes arnica tea, black cohosh tea, gentian tea, juniper tea, lobelia tea, red ginseng tea, sage tea, stone root tea, and yohimbe tea. Also, generally it isn’t recommended to drink tea that lowers blood pressure if you’ve got hypotension, or tea that leads to high blood pressure if you’ve got hypertension. Whether you’ve got problems with high blood pressure or low blood pressure, try a more natural treatment: choose one of the many teas for blood pressure!... Beneficial Teas

WHITE BLOOD CELL

Medical Dictionary

See LEUCOCYTES.... Medical Dictionary