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Cardiovascular System

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Updated December 12, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition:

The cardiovascular system, also known as the circulatory system, is an organ system that encompasses the heart and blood vessels of the body. The cardiovascular system carries blood, oxygen, and nutrients to organs and tissues of the body, and carries waste and carbon dioxide from these tissues for removal from the body.

The cardiovascular system can also be subjected to disease. High cholesterol levels can accumulate in inflamed areas of blood vessels, reducing -– or blocking –- blood flow to affected tissues in the body.

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