Arteries vs. Veins: What’s the difference?

October 12, 2017

Spider & Varicose VeinsAt the Vein Centers of Florida and South Baldwin, we specialize in removing unsightly and painful varicose and spider veins. Varicose and spider veins are conditions that affect a large population of people, especially women. Understanding how the veins work and how these natural deformities are caused is essential in understanding how to treat them.

What do veins do?

Veins, a member of the circulatory system, work in tandem with the heart and their counterpart, the arteries. While veins and arteries exist for similar reasons, mainly blood transportation throughout the body, their essential functions are quite different.

Veins are blood vessels in the body that transport oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart. After blood has been circulated to the organs and has been stripped of its oxygen and nutrients, the veins transport it back up to the heart to begin the process anew. The veins also transport waste, such as carbon dioxide, away from the organs.

Veins often pump blood against the flow of gravity and make use of valves to prevent the blood from flowing downwards. When the valves do not function properly, the blood begins to pool and the veins expand, creating bulging varicose veins. This occurs most frequently in the veins in the lower legs, since they have to work much harder to move the blood against gravity and the body’s own weight to the heart.

What do arteries do?

Arteries are the roadways that provide our organs with substances they need to survive and function. These essential vessels carry oxygenated blood from the heart to all the tissues of the human body.

The heart pumps the blood through the arteries, increasing pressure inside to move the blood in a single direction. Arteries can maintain that high blood pressure due to their strong lining and flexible walls that allow for the additional push of blood. Because of this unique design and the assistance they receive from the heart, they do not need valves to prevent backflow.

Our Vulnerable Veins

Because arteries do not need valves to keep blood moving efficiently, they are not prone to the same issues veins are. Valves tend to break down as the body ages, which can be exacerbated by weight gain, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle. Veins also transport blood largely upwards, creating additional strain on those tiny valves that can lead to damage and the backflow of blood into the vessel.

Veins are a crucial part of the human anatomy. Unfortunately, they are vulnerable to damage, leading to the unsightly appearance of spider and varicose veins. When left unchecked, these swollen vessels can also cause fatigue in the legs, pain, aching and skin changes. The longer varicose veins go untreated, the harder they can be to treat successfully.

If bulging, unsightly or painful veins have disrupted your life in any way, give the Vein Centers of Florida and South Baldwin a call today. We offer full vein assessments and a variety of minimally-invasive treatment options to eliminate unattractive, uncomfortable spider and varicose veins. You can reach our Pensacola location at 850-607-7570, our Destin location at 850-837-443 and our Foley location at 251-971-8346.