Blood is thicker than water and has a little bit salty taste. In an adults body there is 10.6 pints of blood circulating around. In their blood there is billions of living blood cells floating in a liquid called plasma. If you took a small sample of this blood and poured it into a test tube and then put it in a machine called a centrifuge, you would be able to see the layers of this blood. This machine spins the blood around so fast that it separates the red blood cells, from the white blood cells, from the platelets. The red blood cells sink to the bottom because they are the heavier, more solid parts, but the plasma remains at the top because it is lighter. The plasma is 95% water and the other 5% is made up of dissolved substances including salts.
Blood flows through the heart from veins to atria to ventricles out by arteries. Heart valves limit flow to a single direction. One heartbeat, or cardiac cycle, includes atrial contraction and relaxation, ventricular contraction and relaxation, and a short pause. Normal cardiac cycles (at rest) take 0.8 seconds. Blood from the body flows into the vena cava, which empties into the right atrium. At the same time, oxygenated blood from the lungs flows from the pulmonary vein into the left atrium. The muscles of both atria contract, forcing blood downward through each AV valve into each ventricle.
Diastole is the filling of the ventricles with blood. Ventricular systole opens the SL valves, forcing blood out of the ventricles through the pulmonary artery or aorta. The sound of the heart contracting and the valves opening and closing produces a characteristic "lub-dub" sound. Lub is associated with closure of the AV valves, dub is the closing of the SL valves.
Human heartbeats originate from the sinoatrial node (SA node) near the right atrium. Modified muscle cells contract, sending a signal to other muscle cells in the heart to contract. The signal spreads to the atrioventricular node (AV node). Signals carried from the AV node, slightly delayed, through bundle of His fibers and Purkinjie fibers cause the ventricles to contract simultaneously. Figure 13 illustrates several aspects of this.