You probably know that your heart pumps blood. But did you know that there are different types of blood vessels? In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to the three types of blood vessels: arteries, veins, and capillaries. By the end of this post, you’ll better understand how these vessels work together to keep your blood flowing.
Arteries carry blood away from your heart. The walls of arteries are thick and robust because they have to withstand the pressure created by your heart’s pumping action. Over time, though, the walls of arteries can become damaged by this constant pressure. This damage can lead to atherosclerosis, in which plaque builds up on the artery walls and narrows the vessel. This narrowing can reduce or block the flow of blood.
Veins carry blood back toward your heart. Veins don’t have to withstand as much pressure as arteries because the contraction of skeletal muscles helps push blood through them. The walls of veins are thinner than those of arteries, and they’re also equipped with valves that prevent backflow. When these valves become damaged or diseased, it’s called venous insufficiency. This condition can cause blood to pool in the veins and lead to swelling (edema) and pain.
Capillaries are a minor type of blood vessel. They’re located in all body tissues and connect arteries to veins. The thin walls of capillaries allow oxygen and nutrients to pass from the bloodstream into cells and carbon dioxide and wastes to pass into the bloodstream. Because they’re so small, capillaries sometimes break open ( rupture). This can cause bleeding under the skin (bruising).
Now that you know about the three types of blood vessels, you better understand how your circulatory system works. Arteries carry blood away from your heart while veins carry it back. Capillaries connect these two more extensive types of vessels and play an important role in exchanging oxygen and nutrients between cells and the bloodstream. Remember this information next time you go for a walk or run—your circulatory system works hard every time your heart beats!