A perpetual switching system in pulmonary capillaries

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Of the 300 billion capillaries in the human lung, a small fraction meet normal oxygen requirements at rest, with the remainder forming a large reserve. The maximum oxygen demands of the acute stress response require that the reserve capillaries are rapidly recruited. To remain primed for emergencies, the normal cardiac output must be parceled throughout the capillary bed to maintain low opening pressures. The flow-distributing system requires complex switching. Because the pulmonary microcirculation contains contractile...
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