Peripheral circulation: The importance of neural control

The peripheral circulation is regulated in a manner that allows cardiac output to be distributed to the various organs and tissues, each according to its metabolic or functional needs:

  1. By maintaining arterial blood pressure (BP) within a narrow range.
  2. By regulating regional blood flow at the local level – autoregulation, the intrinsic ability of an organ to maintain a constant blood flow in the face of changes in perfusion pressure
  3. Regulation by the central nervous system that adjusts cardiovascular function in a manner that allows adaptation to altered conditions (e.g. posture, exercise, diving, etc.)
  4. This is an important means to effect rapid changes in arterial pressure, in the amount and distribution of cardiac output, and in the distribution of blood flow that are essential to maintain vital heart and brain blood flow in the face of physiological and environmental challenges.

Neural cardiovascular reflexes act in concert in a manner that regulates the circulation at both local (e.g. blood flow) and systemic (e.g. arterial pressure) levels.

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