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Functional understanding of the different parts of the cardiovascular system is essential for an insight into pathomechanisms of numerous diseases. During training cardiovascular physiology, students and early-stage medical personnel should understand the role of different functional parameters for systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as for blood flow. The impact of isolated parameters can only be studied in models. Here physical hydraulic models are an advantage in which the students have a direct contact to the mechanical properties of the circulatory system. But these models are often difficult to handle. The aim of the present study was to develop a comprehensive model of the cardiovascular system, including a mechanical heart with valves, an elastic aorta, a more rigid peripheral artery system, a total peripheral resistance, and a venous reservoir representing the variable cardiac preload. This model allows one to vary systematically several functional parameters and to continuously record their impact on pressure and flow. This model is embedded into a computer-based teaching system (LabTutor) in which the students are guided through the handling of the model (as well as the systematic variation of parameters), and the measured data can be analyzed. This hybrid teaching system, which is routinely integrated in physiology laboratory courses of medical students, allows students to work with a complex hydraulic model of the cardiovascular system and to analyze systematically the impact of influencing variables (e.g., increased peripheral resistance or changed cardiac preload) as well as pathophysiological dysfunctions (e.g., reduced aortic compliance).


Andreas Christ, Dieter Barowsky, Michael Gekle, Oliver Thews. A hydraulic model of cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology embedded into a computer-based teaching system for student training in laboratory courses. Advances in physiology education. 2020 Sep 01;44(3):423-429

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PMID: 32697155

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