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Types of Blood Vessels
Blood vessels are the conduits of our cardiovascular system that move blood from one location to another. There are three major types of blood vessels in our body - arteries, veins and capillaries. Arteries contain a three-layer system (tunica intima, tunica media and tunica extrena) that consists of a thick smooth muscle layer. This makes arteries flexible yet gives them a high resistance to flow. This means that when blood fills arteries and expands their volume, these same arteries can easily recoil and return back to their original shape. This is the method by which blood moves within arteries. The smooth muscle layer of the smaller arteries, called arterioles is innervated and controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Veins also have the same three layers but the thickness of the smooth muscle layer is much smaller. This makes veins very inelastic and easily expandable. Therefore, they do not recoil and can easily expand to contain more volume of blood. Veins also have a system of one-way valves in place that allows the blood to flow in one direction against the force of gravity. The skeletal muscle found around veins also helps move the blood along the veins. Capillaries are very tiny blood vessels (a single cell layer thick) that are responsible for exchanging nutrients and waste products with the cells in our body.
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