Arteries- All You Need To Know About The Arteries

What are the arteries and what is their function?

The arteries are the blood vessels that deliver oxygen rich blood from the heart to the tissues of the body. Each artery is a muscular tube lined by smooth tissue and has three layers:

• The intima, the inner layer lined by a smooth tissue called endothelium

• The media, a layer of muscle that lets arteries handle the high pressures from the heart

• The adventitia, connective tissue anchoring arteries to nearby tissues The largest artery is the aorta, the main high-pressure pipeline connected to the hearts left ventricle. The aorta branches into a network of smaller arteries that extend throughout the body. The arteries smaller branches are called arterioles and capillaries. The pulmonary arteries carry oxygen poor blood from the heart to the lungs under low pressure, making these arteries unique.

Detailed Arteries Definition

An artery is an elastic blood vessel that transports blood away from the heart. This is the opposite function of veins, which transport blood to the heart. Arteries are components of the cardiovascular system. This system circulates nutrients to and removes waste material from the cells of the body. There are two main types of arteries: pulmonary arteries and systemic arteries. Pulmonary arteries carry blood from the heart to the lungs where the blood picks up oxygen. The oxygen-rich blood is then returned to the heart via the pulmonary veins. Systemic arteries deliver blood to the rest of the body. The aorta is the main systemic artery and the largest artery of the body. It originates from the heart and branches out into smaller arteries which supply blood to the head region (brachiocephalic artery), the heart itself (coronary arteries), and the lower regions of the body. The smallest arteries are called arterioles and they play a vital role in microcirculation. Microcirculation deals with the circulation of blood from arterioles to capillaries to venules (the smallest veins). The liver, spleen and bone marrow contain vessel structures called sinusoids instead of capillaries. In these structures, blood flows from arterioles to sinusoids to venules.

arteries arteries functionnormal artery and diseased artery

What are the types of artery diseases?

Atherosclerosis- The build-up of cholesterol (a waxy substance) into what are called plaques in the arteries walls. Atherosclerosis in the arteries of the heart, brain or neck can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Vasculitis (arteritis) - Inflammation of the arteries, which may involve one or more arteries at the same time. Most vasculitis is caused by an overactive immune system.

Stenosis of the arteries- Narrowing of the arteries, usually caused by atherosclerosis. When stenosis occurs in arteries in the heart, neck, or legs, the limitations in blood flow can cause serious health problems.

Peripheral artery disease- Atherosclerosis that causes narrowing of the arteries in the legs or groin. The limitation in blood flow to the legs may cause pain or poor wound healing.

Arterial thrombosis- A sudden blood clot in one of the arteries, stopping blood flow. Immediate treatment is necessary to restore blood flow in the artery.

Coronary artery disease- Atherosclerosis with narrowing of the arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle. Coronary artery disease makes a heart attack more likely.

Cerebrovascular accident (stroke)- A sudden blood clot in one of the arteries supplying blood to the brain. Strokes may also occur when one of the arteries in the brain bursts, causing bleeding.

Temporal arteritis- Inflammation of the temporal artery in the scalp. Pain in the jaw with chewing and pain over the scalp are common symptoms.

What are the risk factors of artery disease?

• High Blood Pressure

• Smoking

• Diabetes

• Obesity

• High Cholesterol

• If you have a family history of artery disease then you should be more careful with diet and lifestyle choices which can affect your arteries.

• Unhealthy lifestyle choices

• Age the older you get the more likely you are to get artery disease

• Stroke

• Heart attack

What are the causes of clogged arteries?

Fatty material (or atheroma) starts accumulating in the lining of the artery wall from when we are quite young. The material is ‘foreign’ to our bodies, so causes inflammation. The artery tries to clear up the inflammation by repairing the tissue, creating a seal of fibrous material over the fatty core. Over time, this forms a plaque, which consists of the fatty material, the inflammation and the fibrous tissue around it. This process gradually continues so more atheroma accumulates, causing more inflammation, which results in a bigger plaque. It can take many years before plaque growth has a significant effect.

What are the symptoms of artery disease?

• Chest pains or discomfort

• Shortness of breath

• Rapid heartbeat

• Weakness

• Dizziness

• Nausea

• Excessive Sweating

• Fatigue

• Weakened muscles in your legs from lack of circulation

• Pain in your leg, arm and anywhere that has a blocked artery

• Vision problems

How to keep your arteries healthy

• Eating a heart healthy diet

• Quit Smoking

• Exercise

• Maintain healthy weight

risk factors of heart diseasesymptoms of heart diseaseheart disease prevention

How is coronary heart disease diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose coronary heart disease based on your medical and family histories, your symptoms experienced, your risk factors for coronary heart disease, a physical exam and the results from tests and procedures. No single test can diagnose coronary heart disease, if your doctor thinks you have coronary heart disease, he or she may recommend the following tests

• EKG (electrocardiogram) - An EKG is simple, painless test that detects and records the hearts electrical activity. This test shows how fast the heart is beating and its rhythm. An EKG also records the strength and timing of electrical signals as they pass through the heart.

• Stress testing- A test of cardiovascular capacity made by monitoring the heart rate during a period of increasingly strenuous exercise.

• Echocardiography- Echocardiography (echo) uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart. The picture shows the shape and size of your heart and how well your heart chambers and valves are working.

• Chest X-Ray- A chest x-ray takes pictures of the organs and structures inside your chest, such as your heart, lungs and blood vessels.

• Blood Tests- Blood tests check the levels of certain fats, cholesterol, sugar, and proteins in your blood. Abnormal levels may show you are at risk of coronary heart disease.

• After the tests are conducted by a specialist the results will be analysed and further advice will then be recommended.