Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

pp 1-2

Date: Latest Version

Arteries

  • Linda C. BaumannAffiliated withSchool of Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Madison Email author 
  • , Alyssa YlinenAffiliated withAllina Health System Email author 

Synonyms

Arteriola

Description

An elastic blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood

Definition

Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. In most cases, arteries carry oxygenated blood. The exception is pulmonary arteries which carry deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs to become oxygenated. Because the arterial system is a high-pressure system due to the pressure created by ventricular contraction, arterial walls are generally thick in structure. The two main arteries branching from the heart are the pulmonary artery, which carries blood to the pulmonary circulation, and the aorta, which carries blood into systemic circulation.

Arteries contain smooth muscle and elastic fibers to allow arterial walls to stretch with ventricular contraction and then recoil pushing blood forward. Large arteries such as the aorta and pulmonary artery are composed mainly of elastic tissue and a smaller proportion of smooth muscle, while smaller arteries or arterioles are compose ...

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