Cardiovascular and Lymphatic/Immune Pathologies


The cardiovascular and lymphatic/immune system plays a major roll in massage. I have learned that heart disease and other cardiovascular disorders are the most prevalent diseases in industrialized countries. And massage therapists will encounter clients with all manners of pathologies of blood, heart, and blood vessels. Massage can help clients by reducing stress. Massage also decreases the effects of the sympathetic nervous system, which is partially responsible for coronary artery vasoconstriction. The lymphatic immune system is one of the major protectors from disease. The cardiovascular and lymphatic/immune system plays major roles in maintaining homeostasis. Most of the body’s cells are embedded in tissues and thus are stationary. Three fluids interact to serve these stationary cells: the blood (part of the cardiovascular system), interstitial fluid, and lymph (part of the lymphatic/immune system). Interstitial fluid not only surrounds and bathes the cells and tissues; it also functions as a medium for exchange between the blood and the tissues. Some of the interstitial fluid continually drains into lymphatic vessels and becomes lymph. The body’s homeostasis depends on the continual movements of blood, interstitial fluid and lymph, and having the right amount of each of these fluids. The main components of the cardiovascular system are the blood, heart, and blood vessels. The purpose of the heart is to pump the blood through a vast closed network of blood vessels. The heart itself is mainly thick myocardium. The myocardium is cardiac muscle, which is responsible for the pumping action. The heart is divided into 4 chambers: 2 superior chambers called the atria, and 2 inferior chambers called ventricles. The major blood vessels associated with the heart are the superior vena cava, the inferior vena cava, the pulmonary trunk, aorta, the coronary sinus, and coronary arteries. Blood enters both the right and left atria at the same time. The heart has its own blood supply called coronary circulation. The lymphatic/immune system is composed of lymph, lymphatic vessels, structures and organs containing lymphatic tissue, lymphocytes, and red bone marrow. There are 3 primary functions of the lymphatic/immune system. The 1st function is to drain excess interstitial fluid. The 2nd function is to transport dietary lipids and lipid soluble vitamin (A, D, E, and K) from the digestive tract to the blood. The 3rd function is carrying out immune functions. Two main types of lymphocytes are created: T cell and B cells. Once the T and B cells are mature they travel to areas of lymphatic tissue. For T and B cells to mount an immune response, they need to come in contact and interact with a pathogen. Once the T and B cell contact the pathogen, they are activated for that specific pathogen. In autoimmune diseases, T and B cells are unable to distinguish the body’s own tissues from something that is foreign to the body.

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