What’s the Difference: Arteries, Veins, Capillaries?
How can you tell if a blood vessel is an artery, vein, or capillary? Blood vessels are tiny tube-like structures that transport blood inside your body. You can differentiate the three based on a few traits.
What are Arteries?
Arteries are the largest type of blood vessels in your body, carrying oxygenated blood away from your heart. They have thick walls and a muscular layer that keeps your blood flowing.
The largest artery in your body, the aorta, transports blood from your heart to your organs. Both arteries and arterioles alter in size to maintain a healthy blood pressure level in your body.
Arteries have the following characteristics:
- They are deeply embedded in muscle
- Have very thick walls
- Transport oxygenated blood from the heart to the organs
- Have a substantial layer of muscle tissue inside
- Lack valves (except for the pulmonary artery)
With the exception of pulmonary blood vessels, arteries carry oxygenated blood away from the heart and veins carry deoxygenated blood toward the heart. In contrast to the arteries, veins have thinner walls and need valves to keep your blood flowing.
Arteries are only found deep inside your muscles, while capillaries are found inside tissues throughout your body.