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This text is intended to give beginning medical and serious physiology students a strong understanding of the basic operating principles of the intact cardiovascular system. In the course of their careers, these students will undoubtedly encounter a blizzard of new research findings, drug company claims, etc. Our basic rationale is that to be able to evaluate such new information, one must understand where it fits in the overall picture.

In many curricula, the study of cardiovascular physiology is a student's first exposure to a complete organ system. Many students who have become masters at memorizing isolated facts understandably have some difficulty in adjusting their mindset to think and reason about a system as a whole. We have attempted to foster this transition with our text and challenging study questions. In short, our goal is to have students "understand" rather than "know" cardiovascular physiology.

We strongly believe that in order to evaluate the clinical significance of any new research finding, one must understand precisely where it fits in the basic interactive framework of cardiovascular operation. Only then can one appreciate all the consequences implied. With the current explosion in reported new findings, the need for a solid foundation is more important than ever.

We are also conscious of the fact that cardiovascular physiology is allotted less and less time in most curricula. We have attempted to keep our monograph as short and succinct as possible. Our goal from the first edition in 1981 onward has been to help students understand how the "bottom-line" principles of cardiovascular operations apply to the various physiological and pathological challenges that occur in everyday life. Thus, our monograph is presented throughout with its last two chapters in mind. These chapters bring together the individual components to show how the overall system operates under normal and abnormal situations. We judged what facts to include in the beginning chapters on the basis of whether they needed to be referred to in these last two chapters.

In this eighth edition, we have attempted to improve conveying our overall message through more precise language, more logical organization of some of the material, smoother and more leading transitions between topics, incorporation of new facts that help clarify our understanding of basic concepts, addition of "Perspectives" section in each chapter that identifies important issues that are currently unresolved, and inclusion of additional thought-provoking study questions and answers.

As always, we express sincere thanks to our mentors, colleagues, and students for all the things they have taught us over the years. This may be our last edition, so, in closing, the authors would like to thank each other for the uncountable hours we have spent in discussion (and argument) in what has been a long, mutually beneficial, and enjoyable collaboration.

David E. Mohrman, PhD
Lois Jane Heller, PhD

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