Arteries and Veins: What Are the Differences?
Arteries and veins alongside capillaries are essential components of the human cardiovascular system, which carry the blood tissue across the body. Although both arteries and veins have similarities, there are distinct differences regarding the structure, composition, and function of these vessels. The similarity is rooted in the fact that they are both major blood vessels, which carry the blood tissue, and thus, they are essentially tubular canals. There are multiple differences, which will be discussed below.
In the case of functional aspects, veins carry deoxygenated blood from the tissues to the heart, whereas arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to other tissues. The exceptions are pulmonary veins and arteries, which carry oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to and from the lung tissue, respectively (Netter, 2018). In the case of the structural elements, veins have thinner walls compared to arteries because the heart’s pump pressure is more prominently applied to the latter (Martini et al., 2017). Therefore, the lumen of arteries is considerably narrower than of the veins, which is also partly related to pressure containment and preservation (Netter, 2018). In addition, arteries do not have any valves, whereas veins have valves to prevent blood from flowing in the opposite direction, which is due to lower pressure (Diogo et al., 2018). Thus, the main structural differences between arteries and veins are due to their functional properties.
In conclusion, both veins and arteries are vessels that carry the blood tissues across the body to oxygenate the outer tissues and remove the excess CO2 from them. However, veins carry deoxygenated blood from the body to the heart, whereas arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart towards outer tissues and organs. Subsequently, arteries have to endure higher pressure from the heart, which is why they have thicker walls and narrower lumen as well as lack valves.
Diogo, R., Noden, D. M., Smith, C. M., Molnar, J., Boughner, J. C., Barrocas, C., & Bruno, J. (2018). Understanding human anatomy and pathology. CRC Press.
Martini, F., Tallitsch, R., & Nath, J. (2017). Human anatomy. Pearson.
Netter, F. H. (2018). Atlas of human anatomy. Elsevier.