Your vascular system

Introduction

The vascular system is the body’s network of vessels, responsible for carrying blood, oxygen and lymphatic fluid around the body1.

Over 100,000 kilometres long 11, your vascular system could wrap itself around the world 2.5 times. 12

Your vascular system

The vascular system is made up of three types of vessels: arteries, capillaries and veins. Arteries are the largest of the vessels and carry oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart and then onto the organs and tissues. Capillaries are the smallest vessels and transport oxygenated blood through the organs and tissues. Veins return the blood that has been transported by the arteries and capillaries back to the heart13.

Your vascular system also plays a crucial role in other body systems including the respiratory, digestive, nervous and urinary systems, together with temperature control1.

Veins, Arteries and Capillaries13

Our vessels are often referred to as the body’s version of a highway. There are three types of vessels that make up the highways of your body .

Arteries carry oxygenated, or oxygen-rich, blood away from the heart to vital organs and muscles, with the exception of the pulmonary artery, which carries deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs. The walls of arteries are thick, muscular and elastic due to the high pressure of the blood flowing through them13.

Veins collect deoxygenated blood from organs and muscles and return it to the heart. The walls in veins are thinner, and the blood is transported at a much lower pressure13.

Capillaries are the smallest and thinnest blood vessels in the body and run through almost every tissue through a complex network. As they carry blood so close to tissue cells, their walls are extremely thin13.

Your Vascular Health

It is important to understand that if you have been diagnosed with one vascular disease, you are likely to be at a higher risk of having another. That is why you should monitor your vascular health and ask your doctor if you are doing all that you can to protect your vascular health.

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