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A Look at Veins and Arteries of the Human Body

written by: Kathy Foust•edited by: Emma Lloyd•updated: 11/27/2009

Like every other part of the human body, veins and arteries serve a specific purpose. The function of these may be compromised by certain health conditions or may cause health concerns. Read on to learn more about veins and arteries of the human body.

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    Veins are the incoming pipeline to the heart and lungs. Which is to say, their primary function is to transport blood to the heart as well as the lungs from the various parts of the body after the blood has served its purpose and had most of the oxygen removed from it. to do this, veins are equipped with one way valves so that the blood only flows in one direction.

    Varicose Veins

    Sometimes the veins may become twisted or form pools of blood in them. These veins are usually visible by looking at the surface of the skin. They are called varicose veins. The exact cause is not yet known, but it is thought that the vein walls may not be adequate to support the vein or that the valves may be missing and allowing the blood to flow in the opposite direction. Varicose veins are characterized by their bluish purple appearance that sometimes look like knots under the skin. If these veins rupture, they will cause open sores or ulcerations on the skin.

    Spider Veins

    Spider veins are veins that have similar problems to varicose veins, but they are lighter in color and smaller than varicose veins.

    While either of these types of veins may be symptomatic of other potential health problems and should be checked by your doctor, they are sometimes only cause for cosmetic concern. Direct health issues resulting from these types of veins may include a feeling of exhausting as the blood supply to the heart and lungs is not what it should be. Wearing supporting clothing such as nylons may sometimes resolve the issues of spider veins and varicose veins. Cosmetic surgery is also often an option.

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    Veins and arteries of the human body each serve different purposes, therefore the structure and function of arteries differs from that of veins. The primary function of the arteries is to carry blood that is fully oxygenated to the various parts of the body. Like the veins, the arteries have valves in them that prevent the blood from flowing in an undesirable direction. The arteries begin at the heart and can lead to serious health problems is they are not functioning correctly. Read below to learn about the possible health problems associated with arteries.

    Plaque Buildup

    As the blood flows from the heart, there is sometimes what is known as a plaque buildup. This can be very dangerous for many reasons. The plaque make break free inside the artery and travel to another area of the artery or body and cause a unhealthy clog or clot. This prevents blood from getting to the necessary parts of the body, such as is the case when there is a stroke due to the lack of blood to the proper areas of the brain. As the pressure of the stopped blood builds, there can even be a rupture in the artery that may result in permanent and severe damage to the body. The cause of this buildup is the use of fatty foods, cholesterol, high blood pressure, lack of proper exercise, diabetes, age and weight.

    Basilar Artery Migraines

    These type of migraines are quite painful and are characterized by the presence of an aura before the pain actually begins. The pain is caused by the swelling of the basilar artery which in turn causes pressure on the brain. Cause of the migraine and swelling vary from stress to specific activities.

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