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Medicine LibreTexts

18.1: Introduction to Blood Vessels and Circulation

  • Page ID
    22382
  • Chapter Learning Objectives:

    After studying this chapter, you will be able to:

    • Compare and contrast the anatomical structure of arteries, arterioles, capillaries, venules, and veins
    • Describe how blood flow, blood pressure, and resistance interrelate
    • Describe the interaction of the cardiovascular system with other body systems
    • Label the major blood vessels of the pulmonary and systemic circulations
    • Identify and describe the hepatic portal system
    • Describe the development of blood vessels and fetal circulation
    • Compare fetal circulation to that of an individual after birth
    Photograph of lower limb and fist with superficial veins visible under the skin.
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Blood Vessels. While most blood vessels are located deep from the surface and are not visible, the superficial veins of the upper limb provide an indication of the extent, prominence, and importance of these structures to the body. In some individuals, contraction of the forearm muscles by squeezing a fist may cause the larger superficial veins to distend such that they are more prominent and easily located. (Image credit: "Arm veins" by Colin Davis is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

    In this chapter, you will learn about the vascular part of the cardiovascular system, that is, the vessels that transport blood throughout the body and provide the physical site where gases, nutrients, and other substances are exchanged with body cells. When vessel functioning is reduced, blood-borne substances do not circulate effectively throughout the body. As a result, tissue injury occurs, metabolism is impaired, and the functions of every body system are threatened.

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