OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology
Minor blood loss is managed by hemostasis and repair. Hemorrhage is a loss of blood that cannot be controlled by hemostatic mechanisms. Initially, the body responds to hemorrhage by initiating mechanisms aimed at increasing blood pressure and maintaining blood flow. Ultimately, however, blood volume will need to be restored, either through physiological processes or through medical intervention.
In response to blood loss, stimuli from the baroreceptors trigger the cardiovascular centers to stimulate sympathetic responses to increase cardiac output and vasoconstriction. This typically prompts the heart rate to increase to about 180–200 contractions per minute, restoring cardiac output to normal levels. Vasoconstriction of the arterioles increases vascular resistance, whereas constriction of the veins increases venous return to the heart. Both of these steps will help increase blood pressure. Sympathetic stimulation also triggers the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which enhance both cardiac output and vasoconstriction. If blood loss were less than 20 percent of total blood volume, these responses together would usually return blood pressure to normal and redirect the remaining blood to the tissues.
Additional endocrine involvement is necessary, however, to restore the lost blood volume. The angiotensin-reninaldosterone mechanism stimulates the thirst center in the hypothalamus, which increases fluid consumption to help restore the lost blood. More importantly, it increases renal reabsorption of sodium and water, reducing water loss in urine output. The kidneys also increase the production of EPO, stimulating the formation of erythrocytes that not only deliver oxygen to the tissues but also increase overall blood volume.
Betts, J. G., Young, K. A., Wise, J. A., Johnson, E., Poe, B., Kruse, D. H., … DeSaix, P. (n.d.). Anatomy and Physiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax.
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