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Medical Interpreting: The Circulatory System

Self-study is a vital part of interpreting, particularly when it comes to medical appointments. As we move through the systems, you’ll find that your interpreting improves with your understanding of how the body works. This foundational knowledge helps during not only specialist appointments, but general appointments as well. In the last installment of our Medical Interpreting series, we discussed the skeletal system, including an introduction to skeletal specialists.

The next modules we are going to talking about correspond to each bodily system.

  • Respiratory System
  • Muscular System
  • Skeletal System
  • Circulatory System
  • Gastrointestinal System
  • Integumentary System
  • Nervous System
  • Inmune System
  • Most Common Scans

Now, let’s move on to the circulatory system: the system that transports blood and lymph through the body.

The Circulatory System

The Circulatory System: An Overview

The circulatory system’s functions can be divided into two categories: cardiovascular and lymphatic. The cardiovascular system’s main objective is to circulate blood in a closed system. This transports nutrients, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones, and blood cells throughout the body. The system includes the heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries with “guest appearances” by the lungs, kidneys, and digestive tract. The lymphatic system is made of lymphatic vessels: organs, and tissues whose purpose is to carry lymph towards the heart. Lymph is the fluid between all cells in the body’s tissues. The lymphatic system is responsible for the return of fluid between blood vessels and cells to central circulation.

The Path of Blood through the Circulatory System

When the heart contracts, blood follows a specific pattern through the pulmonary and then systemic circuits. It goes through the following steps:

  1. Deoxygenated blood starts its journey through the pulmonary circuit. Deoxygenated blood is blood that’s exchanged its oxygen for carbon dioxide during its trip through the circulatory system. The blood enters either the superior or inferior vena cava and arrives in the right atrium.
  2. The deoxygenated blood drains through the right atrium and into the right ventricle. From here, it’s pumped into the pulmonary artery.
  3. The pulmonary artery takes the deoxygenated blood through the lungs, where it becomes oxygenated.
  4. The newly oxygenated blood returns to the heart through the pulmonary veins and enters the left atrium. This starts its path through the systemic circuit.
  5. The blood drains to the left ventricle, where it’s then pumped through the aorta.
  6. The aorta branches out into smaller arteries, which branch out into smaller arterioles, which branch out to capillaries. The blood starts to engage in capillary exchange. This is the process by which cells exchange carbon dioxide and other waste for oxygen and nutrients.
  7. The capillaries carry the carbon dioxide and waste through the deoxygenated blood, to small veins called venules. Venules branch out and expand into veins, which carry the deoxygenated blood to the largest veins–the vena cavas. The process begins again.

Common blood diseases and disorders

Hematology is the study of blood in health, disease, and diagnostics. A medical doctor with specialized knowledge about blood is called a hematologist. The most common blood disorders and diseases are categorized into three groups:

  • Anemias: Anemia is the most common blood disorder. It includes several types, including nutritional anemias (directly caused by nutritional deficits or disorders. Anemias also include non-nutritional varieties (anemias not directly caused by nutritional deficits or disorders). Anemia is a decrease in red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. This means that oxygen can’t be properly transported through the bloodstream.
  • Blood Cancers: Blood cancer is defined as any cancer that affects or involves the blood, bone marrow, or lymph nodes. It’s also referred to as hematological malignancy. This includes leukemias, lymphomas, and myelomas.
  • Coagulopathy: Any condition in which the blood’s ability to coagulate, or form clots, is impaired. This impairs the body’s ability to heal itself and can cause prolonged and/or internal bleeding. A well-known example is Hemophilia, a genetic coagulopathy disorder.

Medical Terminology for Interpreters: An eLearning Course by Global Arena

Want to learn more about medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology? Would you prefer to be able to take a course at your own pace? Global Arena’s eLearning course, Medical Terminology for Interpreters, gives foundational medical knowledge for all interpreting skill levels. It provides a basic overview of common providers, appointments, scans, procedures, and the bodily systems.

The course is timed for three hours and includes a mix of interactive, informative, and review slides. Upon successful completion of all reviews, you’ll receive a Certificate of Course Completion worth three CEUs. The course meets CCHI and NBCMI standards for interpreter training and counts towards your credit hours for exam pre-requisites. You’ll also receive our Medical Terminology glossary, complete with spaces to add vocabulary in your target language. The course is updated regularly, and registration includes lifetime access to all new information and materials. Click the link to learn more and sign up today!

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