System of vessels that convey blood to and from tissues throughout the body, bringing nutrients and oxygen and removing wastes and carbon dioxide. It is essentially a long, closed tube through which blood moves in a double circuit—one through the lungs (pulmonary circulation) and one through the rest of the body (systemic circulation). The heart pumps blood through the arteries, which branch into smaller arterioles, which feed into microscopic capillaries (see artery; capillary). These converge to form small venules, which join to become larger veins, generally following the same path as the arteries back to the heart. Cardiovascular diseases include atherosclerosis, congenital and rheumatic heart disease, and vascular inflammation.
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