Scaling laws governing the cardiovascular system of mammals are discussed in the present review in a manner emphasizing their experimental basis. Specific attention is given to the well-known experimental laws requiring the rate of oxygen consumption and the heart rate of mammals to vary with body mass raised to the powers 3/4 and −1/4, respectively. This review involves reconsideration and further discussion of the previous work of the writer in which these and other scaling relationships were developed from fundamental considerations. The predicted scaling laws remain unchanged from the earlier work, but alternative assumptions leading to the laws are used so as to provide additional insight. The scaling laws are shown to have their origin in the basic design of the cardiovascular system and in the basic processes involved in its working. Modification of the design assumptions of the system to account for known differences in the relative heart masses of mammals and birds is shown to lead to the scaling laws for rate of oxygen consumption and heart rate of birds.
- © 2001 by Company of Biologists