Blood Vessels, Blood Vessel Damage

Your blood vessels function as the transport system for blood, providing the means for carrying a vital bodily fluid from the heart, around to all tissue and back again. Each vessel has the shape of a hallowed, cylindrical structure. Blood vessels form a network of passages, which collectively span a distance of around 60,000 miles.

Blood vessel walls are constructed to control blood flow by constricting and dilating. Certain vessels have valves to hinder a backward flow caused by the force of gravity. And some blood vessel walls are permeable to allow for exchange of molecular material.

There are various types of blood vessels, essentially blood traveling out of your heart goes through arteries to smaller arterioles, then to capillaries or sinusoids, to venules and ends up in veins, which carry blood back to the heart. Capillaries are very tiny vessels in tissue that permit the in and out exchange with surrounding fluid of nutrients and waste products. Sinusoids are similar to capillaries, but their purpose differs. Located in your liver, spleen and bone marrow, their walls contain phagocytic cells that cleanse the organ of toxins and digest old red blood cells.

Blood vessel damage can be caused in a couple of ways. Blunt force can cause the walls of a vessel to break and hemorrhage, resulting in a bruise. Inflammation (vasculitis), often due to autoimmune disease, blood cancer or infection, can cause increased permeability, as well as thickening, weakening, narrowing and scarring damage. Weakened blood vessels walls can break or bulge out into whats referred to as aneurysm. A common type of blood vessel damage is atherosclerosis, which are fatty deposits on or in the walls of blood vessels. This damage can cause blockage leading to ischemia and necrosis or thrombosis (blood clot) and embolism.

Some of these damages associated with blood vessels can lead to life threatening circulation related issues, such as heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism or brain aneurysm.

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