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Facts About the Human Arteries

Posted by Joanna Culley on

More often than what we would like to admit, we tend to confuse veins with another very important blood vessel structure inside our bodies, and these are, of course, the arteries. For starters, arteries, along with veins and capillaries, are long enough to go around the world at least twice. Their entire length is over 60,000 miles long and they carry oxygenated blood to our whole body, from head to toe. The one artery that carries deoxygenated blood towards the lungs is the pulmonary artery.

There is more to arteries than just tiny tubes of fluids. Some arteries like the aorta are big trunks that divide and subdivide into hundreds of branches, called arterioles, which end up in miniscule capillaries. The bigger arteries have three different layers:

  • An outer coat, hard and elastic.
  • Muscular tissue that expands with every heartbeat.
  • A smooth and flimsy inner coat.

Careful with the muscles

Arteries are hollow, and that allows blood to travel through them. If this center begins to constrict due to formation of plaque or overdevelopment of the muscle around, the body’s blood pressure can rise. Arteries can also become less flexible when too much plaque is created, and it can even rupture or block, which can lead to a stroke or a heart attack.

Do you know what an Anastomosis is?

This phenomenon occurs when two different vessels join together. They can either be between two arteries (arterio-arterial), between two veins (veno-venous), and between an artery and a vein (arteriovenous). They can function as backup routes for blood flow if one of the links is compromised. These joins can result in many new arteries and veins.

Is my arterial pressure always the same?

Actually, it varies. It reaches its peak pressure during heart contractions and minimum pressure in between contraction while the heart refills with blood and expands. This is called systolic and diastolic pressure and it is an indicator of cardiac function. It also helps reflect somebody’s heart activity through the observable pulse the arterial pressure causes.

Are your arteries elastic or muscular?

Arteries belonging to the systemic circulation can be divided into muscular or elastic depending on the type of tissue in the middle section of the artery. Usually, larger arteries tend to be elastic and smaller ones are muscular. The latter are the one that deliver blood to the arterioles.

Can my arteries harden?

This can actually happen and it is a very delicate condition. PAD or Peripheral Arterial Disease, also known as Atherosclerosis, occurs when plaque out of fat, cholesterol, calcium, protein or inflammatory cells block or narrow the arteries. This risky disease can be caused by smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

Do arterioles have the same functions as arteries?

In fact, arterioles, along with venules and capillaries, are responsible of the microcirculation. They are also the primary site of vascular resistance; this means that arterioles reduce the pressure and speed of the flow of the blood to exchange gas and nutrients with other blood vessels.

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