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How much do you know about your body’s blood vessels? You may be interested to learn how many veins are in the human body, or which common health conditions can impact your vessels.
Knowing more about your vein health may help you avoid developing serious venous issues. Each year, approximately 150,000 new patients are diagnosed with chronic venous insufficiency, also known as vein disease. This common health issue can impact blood circulation, place you at increased risk for dangerous health conditions, and impact your quality of life.
Read on to discover more about the body’s three types of blood vessels: veins, arteries, and capillaries. For additional guidance and a professional evaluation, we recommend consulting a vein specialist.
An Overview of Your Body’s Blood Vessels
As mentioned above, your circulatory system is made up of three types of blood vessels:
- Arteries: These important vessels carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your body’s organs and tissues.
- Veins: Your veins are responsible for transporting deoxygenated blood back to your heart. They have one-way valves to keep blood flowing in the right direction.
- Capillaries: These tiny blood vessels connect small arteries to small veins.
It’s nearly impossible to count the number of capillaries, arteries, and veins in the human body, in part because of their small size. Some capillaries are just one-third as wide as a strand of human hair. However, we know that if you removed all the blood vessels from an adult’s body and laid them out, they would stretch nearly 60,000 miles.
The Role of Blood Vessels
The health of our circulatory system is vital since it is responsible for transporting blood throughout the body. Blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen that help keep our organs functioning properly. It also feeds our muscles and brain.
Perhaps a helpful analogy is to think of the human body like a car. The heart is the engine, the blood is the oil, and your vessels are the pipes, hoses, tubes, and wires. Similar to the way a car is unable to function without oil, our bodies are unable to live without blood.
Most people do not stop to think about their blood vessels unless they begin to experience related pain or discomfort. Since vascular conditions can be dangerous, you should never delay seeking advice from a medical professional.
One circulatory issue that can develop is vein disease, also commonly referred to as venous insufficiency. Vein disease is the underlying cause of varicose and spider veins. This common health condition can lead to a range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms, along with placing you at increased risk for serious health conditions such as blood clots and venous ulcers.
If you experience venous symptoms like swelling, cramping, itching, or fatigue in your legs, we recommend consulting a vein specialist as soon as possible.
What Do Blood Vessels Look Like?
The three types of blood vessels, veins, arteries, and capillaries, not only have different functions, but they also have different anatomies.
Arteries are made up of three layers. The inner layer, known as the intima, is lined with a type of smooth tissue called endothelium. The middle layer, made up of muscle, is called the media; this layer allows your arteries to manage the high pressure involved when blood is transported from the heart to other areas of your body. The outermost layer, the adventitia, is composed of connective tissue.
Veins are also composed of three layers, of the same names. The adventitia is made of connective tissue and an external elastic membrane. The media of a vein is thinner than that of an artery and consists of smooth muscle-like fibers, along with an internal elastic membrane. The innermost layer, the intima, is where blood travels through. This layer, also known as the lumen, is the first to experience the effects of venous insufficiency.
Capillaries are much smaller than arteries and veins, about the size of a human hair. In fact, these tiny blood vessels are so small that blood has to travel through them cell-by-cell. In larger vessels, blood is able to flow through at a faster rate. Unlike arteries and veins, capillaries are made up of only two layers.
All three types of blood vessels work together to nourish your body.
Request a Consultation at USA Vein Clinics
Your vascular health is of pinnacle importance. With a better understanding of your veins, arteries, and capillaries, you can stay vigilant about your wellbeing. If you need a professional I mopinion, our vein specialists are available to evaluate your vein health and provide minimally-invasive vein treatment if necessary.