A new teaching model of the systemic circulation that incorporates reservoir characteristics

Abstract A hydraulic teaching model of the human systemic circulation is proposed, based on the principles of the reservoir-wave approach. Reservoir characteristics are portrayed by the arterial tall-and-narrow and venous short-and-wide columns, the relative compliances of which are signified by their diameters. Wave characteristics are represented by proximal arterial and venous resistances; rapid left ventricular ejection and rapid right atrial filling cause flow-dependent pressure drops across the respective resistances. (The value of the proximal arterial resistance is numerically equal to the characteristic impedance.) The pressure drop across the proximal arterial resistance, excess pressure, is understood to be fundamentally wave-related and has been shown to be a measure of the efficiency of cardiac-vascular coupling. Excess pressure also predicts an incremental risk of cardiovascular morbidity and largely accounts for the hysteresis evidenced by an open aortic pressure-volume loop.