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What is the Anatomy of Arteries?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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The anatomy of arteries refers to the configuration of arteries in the body. This configuration is different for animals of different species, though there are often differences in the anatomy of arteries between different members of the same species as well. The arteries are a part of the cardiovascular system and are the blood vessels that transport blood away from the heart.

In mammals, including humans, blood leaves the heart through either the right or left ventricle. The artery branching off of the right ventricle is known as the pulmonary artery and sends deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs. The relatively short distance between the heart and lungs means that this side of the heart does not need to work as hard to move blood to its destination. Once the blood reaches the lungs, it picks op oxygen and returns back to the heart through the pulmonary veins.

After oxygenated blood returns to the heart, it leaves again through the left ventricle. The largest of the arteries, the aorta, branches off from this side of the heart. The aorta is one of the most important arteries because it transports the greatest volume of blood. Damage to this artery can easily lead to the death of the organism.

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The aorta sends blood to the arms and the head through three openings on the aortic arch, which is located directly above the heart. The middle branch sends blood up through the left branch of the carotid artery, which runs along the side of the neck and up to the brain. The right branch coming off the aorta sends blood to the right carotid artery and the right arm. The left branch directs blood into the left arm.

After diverting some blood into the upper portions of the body, the aorta arches over the heart and extends down into the abdomen. From here, the arteries in the abdomen direct blood into the legs and to the internal organs. The iliac arteries emerge from the lower side of the aorta and supply blood to the sexual organs and the legs. These arteries are large in diameter and narrow significantly as they descend through the legs.

In the anatomy of arteries, smaller blood vessels branch off from larger ones, eventually narrowing into capillaries. These blood vessels are only large enough for one blood cell at a time to squeeze through. At this point, the anatomy of arteries becomes the anatomy of veins after blood is returned to the heart.

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