Your Vascular System
The vascular system also known as the circulatory system is made up of vessels that carry blood and lymph throughout the body.
The blood vessels are:
Arteries: They carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart. The main artery from the heart is called the aorta.
Veins: They carry oxygen-poor blood back to the heart.
Capillaries: They are tiny blood vessels or connections between veins and arteries that distribute oxygen rich blood to different tissues in the body.
This way the blood vessels carry oxygen and nutrients to the body and take away all the tissue waste.
Lymph vessels carry lymphatic fluid which is responsible for controlling and protecting the fluid in the body.
The Vascular system is important in the proper functioning of all other systems of the body too.
Digestive System: Digested food is sent to the tissues of the body via blood which is carried by capillaries that pick up those nutrients from the intestines.
Respiratory System: Blood passed from the heart is oxygenated in the lungs and this oxygenated blood then travels from the heart to the entire body.
Urinary System: Waste is filtered out from the blood with the help of kidneys that remove it from the body in the form of urine.
Temperature Control System: Body temperature is maintained with the right flow of blood to each part of the body.
With age if not taken care of, these blood vessels cause certain issues that are related to the vascular system’s healthy running.
As we age, our arteries tend to thicken, get stiffer, and narrow. This is called arteriosclerosis. A form of arteriosclerosis is atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque and cholesterol in large and medium-sized arteries. A narrowing of the arteries from the build-up of plaque can lead to coronary heart disease, and can cause a heart attack when this occurs in the blood vessels leading to the heart.
The same situation in the arteries leading to the brain can cause strokes. Narrowing of the arteries in other places, such as your legs, can cause what is called Peripheral Arterial Disease, or PAD. PAD can lead to pain on walking, ulcers or eventually end up with amputation.
What are the blood vessels composed of?
They have three layers:
- The inner layer – intima: It is lined by specialized cells called endothelial cells.
The main function of this lining is to keep the vessels from clotting.
- The middle layer – media: It is composed of muscle cells, and allows the vessels to expand and contract.
- The outer layer – adventitia: It provides strength to the vessels so that they do not burst under pressure.
Why do the blood vessels pose certain risks?
- ARTERIES are thicker and are therefore prone to developing blockages or dilations.
- VEINS are thinner and have valves that keep the blood moving back toward the heart. But, the larger deep veins of the legs can develop clots.