Understanding Your Blood Vessels

The blood vessels in the body are often the site of cardiovascular disease. So it’s important that you understand exactly what they are and how they work. This can help you to understand the importance of healthy habits as well as medical screenings. It can also help you to understand the results of medical tests.

The blood vessels in your body consist of arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins. The arteries and arterioles carry blood that’s rich in oxygen away from the heart to the tissues of the body.

The venules and veins carry blood that is oxygen depleted back to the heart. The capillaries are the smallest blood vessels where oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange actually takes place.

Blood vessels are made of smooth muscle cells. They make up a network of tubes that circulate blood all over the body. Inside these tubes are valves along the way. The valves are designed to help the blood travel in one direction.

The blood vessels in your body don’t actually contract and “beat.” The pulse you feel under your skin is a result of the heart pumping. However, blood vessels can help to control blood flow by becoming more narrow or constricting. They can also become wider by dilating.

We often take our blood vessels for granted, but the truth is that they’re pivotal in the progression of almost every disease that the body can contract. For example, cancer can only continue to grow when new blood vessels are laid down in the tumor. In heart disease, the condition of the blood vessels is pivotal.

Over time, saturated fat and cholesterol can begin to line the interior of blood vessels and form a hard plaque. This plaque causes blood vessels to become narrow and can eventually lead to blockages. When this happens, the heart has to work harder to pump blood all over the body.

Also, there are blood vessels that supply the heart with the blood it needs to do its job. When those vessels become blocked, the result can be a heart attack. Strokes are also the result of blood vessel blockages.

It’s important to do all you can to keep your blood vessels in good shape. You can do this by eating a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fat and fiber. You can also help keep them in good shape by participating in regular exercise. By making a few healthy choices, you can prevent problems with these important parts of your body.



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