What’s the Difference Between Arteries and Veins?

Gaseous and nutrient exchange between cells and blood vessel. At Premier Heart & Vein Care, Dr. Stevens takes care of malfunctioning veins every day. Since arteries, along with veins, make up our body’s main type of blood vessels, people can get confused about the roles of each.

In this first February blog, let’s talk about arteries and veins.

Two closed systems

Arteries are blood vessels responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood away from the heart out to the body. Veins are blood vessels that carry blood that is low in oxygen from the body back to the heart for reoxygenation.

Arteries and veins are two of the body’s main type of blood vessels. These vessels distribute blood to the body. Both systems are closed, and both begin and end at the heart. These systems are either:

  • Pulmonary — The pulmonary vessels are arteries that transport oxygen-poor blood from the heart’s right ventricle to the lungs. Pulmonary veins transport oxygen-rich blood back to the heart’s left atrium.
  • Systemic — The systemic vessels are arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart’s left ventricle to the tissues in all parts of the body. They then return oxygen-poor blood through the veins back to the heart’s right atrium.

 Are there different types of arteries?

Each artery is made up of three coats, the outer, middle, and inner. There are three types of arteries:

  • Elastic arteries — These are the biggest arteries. They have a thick middle layer so they can stretch in response to each pulse of the heart.
  • Muscular arteries — These are medium-sized arteries. They draw blood from elastic arteries and branch into resistance vessels, which are the small arteries and arterioles.
  • Arterioles — These are the smallest of the arteries that transport blood away from the heart. They direct blood into the capillary networks.

What are the different types of veins?

There are four types of veins:

  • Deep veins are located within muscle tissue. They have a corresponding artery nearby.
  • Superficial veins are close to the skin’s surface. They don’t have corresponding arteries.
  • Pulmonary veins transport blood that’s been filled with oxygen by the lungs to the heart.
  • Systemic veins are located throughout the body from the legs up to the neck, including the arms and trunk. They transport deoxygenated blood back to the heart.

At Premier Heart & Vein Care, Dr. Stevens works mainly with superficial veins that have become varicose veins or spider veins due to weakness in the vein walls, malfunctioning valves that are supposed to prevent backflow, and decreased strength in surrounding support tissues.

If you have symptoms of varicose veins or are irritated by the appearance of spider veins, please give us a call at Premier Heart & Vein Care, (805) 540-3333, to schedule a consultation with Dr. Stevens.

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