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  • (30 points) Joe Schmoe, a 50-year old, non-smoker, has considered himself active for most of his life with healthy reports from the doctor. But in the last two years, his blood pressure has been hovering around 170/110, and his weight has increased. When he describes his diet, he admits that he has a large amount of salt in his diet. Joe’s doctor is concerned and recommends a strict diet regimen, with little to no salt, and that he exercise 30-45 minutes a day. Joe doesn’t understand why the doctor is concerned – he has been healthy for most of his life and thinks this is just a symptom of getting older.
  1. What is the name of the top and bottom numbers in the blood pressure?
  2. What is the lowest blood pressure reading that would be considered hypertension? Is Joe hypertensive?
  3. Describe what each of these numbers represents/tells us about heart function and cardiovascular fitness.
  4. Explain the physiology behind how Joe’s high salt diet is affecting his blood pressure.
  5. Based on your understanding of blood pressure, explain why you think the doctor is concerned about Joe’s blood pressure numbers (be specific – not just the numbers are high or low). In other words, why would Joe’s blood pressure be something to be concerned about in regards to heart function and stroke volume?
  6. Name two physiological changes that Joe’s body has likely begun doing over the last two years in response to try and keep his blood pressure in a homeostatic range.



  • (30 points) Figure 1 is a ‘normal’ ECG of a healthy individual which is generated by the intrinsic cardiac conduction system. We use the ECG to infer certain aspects of heart function. Figure 2 is an ECG of an individual with non-healthy cardiac function.
  1. Describe the intrinsic cardiac conduction system that is responsible for the ECG readout. In other words, trace the electrical pathway through the heart from initiation to end, that provides us with the ECG readout. Be sure to include which cell type initiates this process. What allows the heart muscle cells to contract almost synchronously and therefore respond to this electrical conduction system together?


Figure 1: ECG of Healthy Individual

  1. To better understand how we infer certain aspects of heart function from the ECG, describe what each letter on the ECG of the healthy patient in Figure 1 represents for heart activity.
  2. Explain what is happening to blood flow/volume in the heart for each letter on the ECG in Figure 1.
  3. Define isovolumetric contraction. Where in an ECG would isovolumetric contraction be occurring?


Figure 2: ECG of Unhealthy Individual


  1. Looking at Figure 2 (the second ECG), describe what is different from the first ECG (Figure 1). How is the heart function of the individual with the second ECG not experiencing healthy cardiac output? (in other words, what is wrong with the individual?)




  • (20 points) Sally’s son is not feeling well. He is running a fever, has flu-like symptoms, and his lymph glands are very swollen and sore to the touch. She takes him to the doctor’s office for a diagnosis and treatment.
  1. The doctor palpates the swollen lymph glands. What structure is the doctor actually feeling?
  2. What is the significance of the swollen and sore lymph glands? (Think about what cells reside here.)
  3. Where does the fluid that is found in the lymph glands come from? And how is this fluid transported differently than fluid in capillaries?
  4. How does the structure of the lymph gland allow for its function to be effective?



  • (20 points) The immune system amazingly orchestrates chemical processes and cells so that we can fight disease and infection. Currently, there is a race across the world to find an effective vaccine for COVID-19. When a vaccine is available it will most likely provide active artificially acquired immunity to people.
  1. Describe the difference between innate and adaptive immunity and provide an example of each.
  2. Provide the steps an optimal vaccine for COVID-19 would take to manipulate our adaptive immune system function to develop protection against the virus. Begin with the active artificial immunity exposure, through the adaptive immune system response of B cells only, and the product(s) that would exist in our bodies to keep us protected.
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