Course Content
Cardio-respiratory 1
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Hemodynamics & tissue perfusion

Learning outcome 1. Define “vascular tone” and “tissue perfusion”.


  • Vascular tone: Refers to the degree of constriction or dilation of blood vessels, primarily influenced by the contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle cells in the vessel walls.
  • Tissue perfusion: Refers to the delivery of oxygen, nutrients, and other essential substances to tissues via the blood, as well as the removal of waste products.

Learning outcome 2. Describe the systemic and local factors affecting vascular tone.


  • Systemic factors:
    • Autonomic nervous system: Sympathetic stimulation constricts blood vessels (vasoconstriction), while parasympathetic stimulation dilates blood vessels (vasodilation).
    • Hormones: Examples include epinephrine, norepinephrine (vasoconstrictors), and nitric oxide (vasodilator).


  • Local factors:
    • Metabolic factors: Examples include oxygen, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen ions, which can cause vasodilation or vasoconstriction depending on tissue metabolic needs.
    • Endothelial factors: Endothelial cells can release substances such as nitric oxide (vasodilator) and endothelin (vasoconstrictor).

Learning outcome 3. State two determinants of tissue perfusion.


  • Arterial blood pressure: Higher arterial blood pressure increases tissue perfusion, as it helps drive blood flow through the microcirculation.
  • Vascular resistance: Lower vascular resistance facilitates tissue perfusion, as it allows blood to flow more easily through the blood vessels.

Learning outcome 4. Apply Poiseuille-Hagen law to blood flow and resistance.


Poiseuille-Hagen law states that blood flow (Q) through a vessel is directly proportional to the pressure difference (ΔP) between the two ends of the vessel, and inversely proportional to the resistance (R) of the vessel.


Q = (π × ΔP × r^4) / (8 × L × η)



  • r is the radius of the blood vessel
  • L is the length of the blood vessel
  • η is the blood viscosity


This law highlights the significance of blood vessel radius in determining resistance and blood flow. A small change in the radius results in a significant change in resistance and blood flow.

Learning outcome 5. Explain the significance of arteriolar tone.


Arteriolar tone is crucial in controlling blood flow to different tissues and organs. By adjusting the degree of constriction or dilation of arterioles, the body can redirect blood flow to specific tissues as needed, such as during exercise or in response to changes in metabolic demands.

Learning outcome 6. Outline regional blood flow.


Regional blood flow refers to the distribution of blood flow among different organs and tissues in the body. Blood flow to various regions is regulated by factors such as tissue metabolic demands, autonomic nervous system activity, and local blood vessel tone.

Learning outcome 7. Describe regulation of tissue blood flow.


Tissue blood flow is regulated through a combination of systemic and local factors that affect vascular tone, as well as determinants of tissue perfusion (arterial blood pressure and vascular resistance). The balance between these factors ensures that tissues receive adequate oxygen and nutrients to meet their metabolic needs.

Learning outcome 8. Explain the autoregulation of blood flow.


Autoregulation is the ability of tissues to maintain relatively constant blood flow despite changes in arterial blood pressure. This is achieved through local mechanisms that adjust vascular resistance in response to changes in tissue perfusion. For example, if perfusion decreases due to a drop in blood pressure, local vasodilatory factors will cause arterioles to dilate, reducing vascular resistance and increasing blood flow to the tissue. This helps maintain adequate tissue perfusion even under varying systemic conditions.


Autoregulation mechanisms include:


  • Myogenic response: Vascular smooth muscle cells in arterioles can contract or relax in response to changes in blood pressure. Increased pressure leads to arteriolar constriction, while decreased pressure leads to arteriolar dilation.
  • Metabolic factors: Changes in local metabolic byproducts (e.g., oxygen, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen ions) can influence arteriolar tone. Low oxygen levels or high levels of metabolic waste products typically cause vasodilation to increase blood flow and restore the balance of these substances in the tissue.
  • Endothelial factors: Endothelial cells can release vasodilatory substances (e.g., nitric oxide) and vasoconstrictive substances (e.g., endothelin) in response to changes in blood flow and shear stress.


These autoregulatory mechanisms help maintain consistent blood flow and tissue perfusion despite fluctuations in arterial blood pressure, ensuring that tissues receive adequate oxygen and nutrients to meet their metabolic needs.

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