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OVERVIEW OF THE VASCULAR SYSTEM

Updated: Jul 6, 2020



The vascular system is a crucial entity that ensures the proper perfusion of different tissues and organs. It is composed of two main types of blood vessels:

  • The arterial system

  • The venous system


In this article, we will briefly define each system and address its main functions.


THE ARTERIAL SYSTEM


The arterial blood system begins at the heart, emerging from the largest vessel in the body –the aorta–, which branches out into several arteries to deliver oxygenated blood and nutrients to different body parts.

This system is characterized by the high pressure inside the blood vessels due to the powerful contractions of the heart.

As the arteries penetrate peripheral tissues, the diameter of these vessels decreases until they reach microscopic levels that go by the name, blood capillaries.

Arterial dysfunction is the driver of several ailments, such as coronary artery disease, strokes, peripheral artery disease, and vasculitides.



THE VENOUS SYSTEM


As opposed to the arterial system, the venous system delivers unoxygenated blood from peripheral tissues to the heart, so the lungs can oxygenate it.

This system begins where the arteries end (capillaries), and the veins keep growing in size until they drain into the heart.

The main two veins that drain into the heart are:

  • The superior vena cava

  • The inferior vena cava

The venous system is predisposed to various medical conditions, including deep vein thrombosis, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids.



TAKEAWAY MESSAGE


The vascular system is a complex organ that is crucial for our survival, as it nourishes peripheral tissues and drains them from toxic compounds, such as CO2 and metabolic by-products.


Unfortunately, this system is the site of a myriad of medical conditions but with the development of modern vascular surgery, doctors are able to save thousands of lives.

If you have any queries about the vascular system, feel free to ask in the comment section below.


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