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An artery is a blood vessel which carries blood away from the heart. It is the largest of all types of blood vessel, with strong vascular walls, the strength of which is required to move blood to body tissues which require oxygen.

Aterioles are small branches of arteries, and control the blood which is sent to capillaries. These are an important part of the arterial system [1].


The outer layer of an artery is called the tunica adventitia, which comes into contact with surrounding organs in order to protect the artery from wear. The inner layer is called a tunica intima has a smooth epithelium so that friction is reduced which is caused by blood flowing through the artery. The tunica media is the thickest layer and contains smooth muscle for contraction, to allow blood to flow through the artery [2].

In the heart, there are two main arteries; the pulmonary artery and the aorta. The pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood to the lungs to become oxygenated (using haemoglobin) to bind oxygen.

The aorta is the largest artery in the body and rises from the left ventricle of the heart, carrying oxygenated blood which can then be used in respiration.


  1. Guyton, A. and Hall, J. (2011) Textbook of Medical Physiology, 12th edition. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier
  2. Rowland, M. (1992) Biology. Surrey: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.
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