As we stated on the previous page, "What Is High Blood Pressure," arteries and veins are both part of the circulatory system and carry blood from the heart to the lungs and to all other parts of our bodies. Both are very important in maintaining our blood pressure.
Though they both carry blood through our bodies they are very different and are even made of different tissue and perform their own functions in specific ways.
Arteries. Arteries carry blood which is full of oxygen away from the heart.
Arteries have three layers of tissue - the outside and inside layers are made of a connective tissue which covers the muscular middle layer of smooth muscle, and elastic fibers. These tissues provide a smooth path for our blood to flow through.
Arteries contract and continue moving the blood along with a pumping action. Over time these cells can become damaged and can cause us problems. We will discuss some of these problems below.
Veins carry blood back to the heart from all of the outlying areas in the body after the oxygen has been delivered. Hence, it has very little oxygen in it and is usually filled with carbon dioxide. It is sometimes called "blue blood" but is actually very dark red.
Veins have thin walls and don't need to be as strong as arteries. They are very flexible and collapse when they don't have blood in them. Veins do not contract so therefore have valves which keep the blood moving forward and prevent it from going back and pooling in the extremities.
If the efficiency of the veins decrease some blood may stagnate in the vein, which then becomes swollen and twisted, causing aching and abnormal fatigue of the legs. This is a varicose vein.
The primary pump for moving blood in the veins and lymphatic system back to the heart is muscle contraction and other body movements. That is one reason why daily exercise is so important.
Doctors use veins as a portal in which to put fluids directly into the blood stream or from which to draw blood.
Isn't it interesting the way arteries and veins which are practically connected can be so different?
The American Heart Association has an excellent article on High Blood Pressure which talks about arteries and veins.
They explain that "healthy arteries are made of muscle and a semi-flexible tissue that stretches like elastic when the heart pumps blood through them. The more forcefully that blood pumps, the more the arteries stretch to allow blood to easily flow. Over time, if the force of the blood flow is often high, the tissue that makes up the walls of arteries gets stretched beyond its healthy limit. This creates problems in several ways."
The overstretching creates weak places in the vessels, making them more prone to rupture. Problems such as strokes and aneurysms are caused by ruptures in the blood vessels.
2. "Vascular scarring.
The overstretching can cause tiny tears in the blood vessels that leave scar tissue on the walls of the arteries and veins. These tears and the scar tissue are like nets, and can catch debris such as cholesterol, plaque or blood cells traveling in the bloodstream." (American Heart Association, "What is high blood pressure?)
When our hearts work too hard because of problems in the arteries and veins it can cause heart failure in the form of:
Besides answering, what the difference in arteries and veins is, what causes the arteries to narrow, and what if our hearts work too hard, we also need to look at symptoms for a few minutes.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms.
There are usually no symptoms! The list above does not list symptoms, but rather the results of high blood pressure. Remember that high blood pressure is a symptomless disease. Often we do not know that we have it until we experience a heart attack, stroke, or other heart failure.
The only time we have symptoms is when our blood pressure has reached a critically high level - known as a hypertensive crisis. If our blood pressure gets this high we may possibly have a nose bleed, a headache, severe anxiety, or shortness of breath. If we have these symptoms we are in trouble. These are extremely critical symptoms.
How High Is Too High?
If we are having any of these symptoms or just feeling "wierd" we need to take our blood pressure immediately. If it is 180 systolic or higher and/or 110 diastolic or higher, (180/110) we need to immediately call 911 and get to the hospital. Don't wait a minute. Our life is in danger.
Even if for some reason we don't have a heart attack, our arteries and veins can suffer so much inflammation that they may leak, making it impossible for blood to be pumped to all of our critical body systems. This can result in major organ damage.
High Blood pressure is no joking matter. Take it seriously.
Is There Anything We Can Do?
Yes. Don't dispair. There are things we can do.
Read our page on Food for High Blood Pressure and
our page on High Blood Pressure Herbs.
And coming soon we will have a page on Exercise and High Blood Pressure.
For More Amazing Ideas on
Veins and Arteries - visit the following pages: