7.4 Changes in the cardiovascular system
The cardiovascular system consists of the heart, the blood vessels (veins and arteries), and the blood that circulates around the body. It is the transport system that supplies oxygen and nutritive substances absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract to all the cells, tissues and organs of the body, enabling them to generate the energy they need to perform their functions. It also returns carbon dioxide, the waste product of respiration, to the lungs, where it is breathed out. The chemical processes that go on in the body generate many waste products, which the blood transports to the kidneys and liver, where they are removed. Other functions of the cardiovascular system include the regulation of body temperature, and the circulation and delivery of hormones and other agents that regulate body functions. There are several significant changes in this complex system during pregnancy.