Cardiovascular System: Heart Rate; Cardiac Output; and Blood Pressure, Volume, and Flow
The heart is a muscle, referred to as the myocardium, which begins functioning within the fourth week of embryonic development and continues to beat 3–4 billion times throughout life. About the size of a fist, the heart weighs less than a pound and contracts about 60–75 times a minute. As it beats, the heart moves blood to various organs including the lungs (pulmonary circulation), the heart (coronary circulation), and the rest of the body (systemic circulation). Psychophysiologists have long been interested in the functioning of the heart and circulation and have focused their attention on such measures as heart rate, blood pressure, blood volume, and blood flow. This chapter provides a brief overview of the physiology of the cardiovascular system before discussing the recording and analysis of heart rate, blood pressure, blood volume, and blood flow. The electrical activity of the heart as recorded at the surface of the skin is measured by a technique known as electrocardiography.
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