Open Learning - Learn Cardiorespiratory Function, Health and Disease - Tutor Support Available 

  • Learn the biological processes that drive breathing, gas exchange and blood flow in the human body.
  • Build on the existing general biology knowledge
  • Explore anatomical, physiological and biochemical processes that drive cardiovascular and respiratory function.  


Prerequisite: Human Anatomy & Physiology BSC101 or equivalent.

Home Studies Course -Learn about Cardiorespiratory Health and Fitness


  • Online biology course for students with a biological science background
  • Students learn how the cardiovascular and respiratory systems function cooperatively
  • Learn about monitoring and regulatory mechanisms governing cardiorespiratory functions
  • Learn biochemical processes that explain how and why the cardiorespiratory system works in the way it does.
From gas exchange, cellular energy production, cardiomyocyte contraction, alveolar structure and function, gas laws, blood physiology and cellular oxygen demand, students will develop a sound understanding of breathing and blood flow.



There are 7 lessons as follows:

  1. The Science of Blood
  2. Blood Pressure
  3. Pulmonary Ventilation
  4. Gas Exchange and Transport
  5. Blood Flow and Gas Transport
  6. Cardio Respiratory Control
  7. Cardio Respiratory Disease

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


Duration: 100 hours

Students can expect to:

  • Apply physical formulas to explain movement of gases in the body
  • Understand the cellular need for oxygen
  • Investigate removal of carbon dioxide from the body
  • Learn the importance of carbon dioxide in blood chemistry
  • Understand how cells produce energy aerobically and anaerobically, and how the body cardiorespiratory system deals with the waste products of these processes
  • Develop their understanding of homeostasis and equilibrium, diffusion and osmosis and the importance of each to gas exhange
  • Test concepts practically using common household items
  • Analyse data from basic experiments to develop their knowledge of lesson topics
  • Examine the role of fitness and exercise in cardiorespiratory health and function
  • Interpret electrocardiograms
  • Discover the impact of different conditions, illnesses and disease processes on cardiorespiratory performance

Blood Typing

Blood is basically the same in all people. We all have (as long as we are healthy) about the same number of erythrocytes, leukocytes and platelets. We all have dissolved inorganic compounds in our plasma and so on. However, there are two characteristics which differ between different people, the blood type (designated A, B, AB and O) and the rhesus (Rh) factor (positive or negative). This means that if giving blood to a person (a transfusion) you need to ensure that the blood type is the same and that the rhesus type is compatible.

So what determines a person’s blood type? Their erythrocytes, or more specifically, the presence or absence of particular antigens on the surface of their erythrocytes. There are two antigens that can be present on the surface of an erythrocyte, the A antigen and the B antigen. People whose erythrocytes bear A antigen are said to have type A blood. Erythrocytes that carry B antigen are found in B type blood, and people with AB blood type have erythrocytes carrying both A and B antigens. In type O blood, the erythrocytes have neither antigen. The reason the antigen type is important is because a person’s body develops antibodies to antigens. People with A type blood carry antibodies against the B type antigen, and vice versa in people with B type blood. People with AB type blood carry no antibodies against A or B antigens, and people with O type blood have antibodies against both A and B antigens.

Antigens function to recognise and bind to their specific antigen. This results in a series of events that will destroy the cell carrying the antigen. A person with A type blood has no antibodies to the A antigen, because if they did, their body would target and destroy its own blood cells. However, they do have antibodies to the B antigen. So, if you transfused them with B type blood, their body would recognise the new blood as a threat, their antibodies would bind to the B antigen on the surface of the erythrocytes from the transfusion and these erythrocytes would be destroyed. This can be fatal.

The rhesus type of a person’s blood is also determined by the presence or absence of an antigen. There are actually several rhesus antigens, but in blood typing, we are referring to only one, the D rhesus antigen, also known as Rh D or Rhesus factor. If a person’s erythrocytes bear the Rh D antigen, they are a positive blood type and carry no Rh D antibodies. Conversely if a person’s erythrocytes do not bear Rh D antigen, they are Rh negative and will have antibodies against Rh D. Transfusing an Rh negative person with Rh positive blood can be life threatening as the recipient’s body will recognise the new erythrocytes as foreign invaders and target them for destruction. The vast majority of people, across all ethnicities are Rh positive.

When transfusing blood, O negative people are known as universal donors. Their blood contains none of the antigens (A, B or Rh) so regardless of what antibodies the recipient has, the lack of antigens means there is nothing for their antibodies to react with and the new blood will not be recognised as a threat. Conversely, AB positive people are known as universal recipients. Their erythrocytes bear all three antigens, A, b and Rh, and anybody with a different blood type will have antibodies to at least one of these, resulting in the destruction of the new blood.

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