In order to understand the function of your veins, it’s important to understand how your cardiovascular system works first. Inside your body, you have a massive network of blood vessels that begin with the pulmonary vein, which is responsible for moving oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart. Your heart then pumps this oxygen-rich blood throughout your body to your extremities, organs, tissues and cells. Once the oxygen has been delivered, the blood becomes deoxygenized (oxygen has been removed) and flows back toward the heart to restart the process.
Vessels that bring blood back to the heart
The largest veins in your body are called the “great vessels” and are responsible for circulating blood to and from your heart:
- The inferior and superior vena cava veins carry deoxygenated blood from the body to the right side of the heart.
- The pulmonary vein transfers oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the left side of the heart. From there, the oxygen-rich blood is carried to the rest of the body.
Arteries that carry blood away from the heart
These are the two most important arteries in the body:
- The aorta is the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the left side of the heart to the rest of the body.
- The pulmonary artery carries oxygen-poor blood away from the heart and back toward the lungs.
Veins and arteries have three layers
Here is a breakdown of the anatomy of your veins:
- The adventitia – The outer layer of the vein that’s made up of loose connective tissue.
- The media – The middle layer that’s made up of layers of smooth muscle and elastic fibers.
- The intima – The inner lining of the vein, which is attached to the underlying connective tissue and directly exposed to the blood.
It’s important to take good care of your venous and cardiovascular systems to ensure your body is getting all of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function properly. When the vessels inside you veins become damaged or inoperable, blood can get stuck and begin pooling, which may lead to varicose veins if left untreated. You can take care of your veins by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco products and limiting sodium, sugar and saturated fat in your diet.
Your vein health is important for your overall well-being. If you suffer from varicose veins or spider veins, call Chicago Vein Institute at 773-506-7340 to request a consultation. We want to help alleviate the pain associated with vein disease so you can get back to the life you love.