You are on page 1of 3

Arteries and veins

The arterial-distribution and venous-collection systems


Arteries as a distribution system

Microcirculation as a diffusion and filtration system
Veins as a collection system
Physical properties of vessels follow closely the level branching in the circuit
o Number of vessels at each level of arborization
o Radius of a typical individual vessel

Cross sectional area of an individual vessel is proportional to the

square of the radius
o Aggregate cross-sectional area of all vessels at that level

The combined cross-sectional area of daughter vessels exceeds

the cross-sectional area of the parent vessel

The steepest increase in total cross-sectional area occurs in the


In humans, the maximum cross-sectional area occurs not at the

level of the capillary but at the postcapillary venules
o Mean linear velocity of blood flow within an individual vessel

According to the principle of continuity, total volume flow must

be the same at any level of arborization
Most of the blood volume resides in the systemic veins
o The total blood volume is the sum of the volumes of all parallel
o The distribution of total blood volume expresses as both absolute blood
volumes and relative blood volumes
o 4 useful ways of grouping volumes

Systemic circulation (~85% of blood resides)
Pulmonary circulation (~10%)
Heart chambers (~5%)

High-pressure system (~15%)
Low-pressure system (~80%)
Heart chambers (5%)

Systemic venous system
o Approximately or 65% of the total is on the
venous side, particularly in the smaller veins
o Venous system acts as a volume reservoir
Remainder of the circulation

Central blood volume + pulmonary circulation
Rest of the circulation
o Circulation time

Is the time requires for a bolus of blood to travel either across

the entire length of the circulation, or across a particular
vascular bed

Was used clinically as an index of cardiac output

Is actually the ratio of blood volume to blood flow

Circulation time across a single vascular bed (coronary

circulation) may be short as 10 sec

Total circulation time

The time to go from left to right across
~ 1 minute
The intravascular pressures along the systemic circuit are higher than those
along the pulmonary circuit
o The total resistance of the systemic circulation is far higher than that
of the pulmonary circulation
o Higher pressure system

Extends from the left ventricle during contraction all the way to
the systemic arterioles
o Low pressure system

Extends from the systemic capillaries, through the rest of the

systemic circuit, into the right heart, and then through the
pulmonary circuit into the left heart in the relaxed state
Under normal conditions, the steepest pressure drop in the systemic
circulation occurs in arterioles, the site of greatest vascular resistance
o Left heart

Constant pressure generator of 95 mmHg

o Right heart

Constant pressure generator of 15 mmHg

o It is the resistance of each vascular segment that determines the
profile of pressure fall between the upstream arterial and downstream
venous ends of the circulation
o The pressure difference between two points along the axis of the
vessel depends on flow and resistance

Resistance of an individual unbranched vascular segment is

inversely proportional to the fourth power of the radius
o The pressure drop between any two points along the circuit depends
critically on the diameter of the vessels between these two points
o The steepest pressure drop does not occur along the capillaries, where
vessel diameters are smallest, but rather, along the precapillary

The aggregate resistance contributed by vessels of a particular

order of arborization depends not only on their average radius,
but also on the number of vessels in parallel

The more vessels are parallel, the smaller the aggregate


Although the resistance of a single capillary exceeds that of a

single arteriole, capillaries far out number arterioles

Local intravascular pressure depends on the distribution of vascular

Elastic properties of blood vessels
- Blood vessels are elastic tubes
- Because of the elastic properties of vessels, the pressure-flow relationship of
passive vascular beds is nonlinear
o As driving force and transmural force increase, vessel radius increases
as well, causing resistance to fall
- Contraction of smooth muscle halts blood flow when driving pressure falls
below the critical closing pressure
o Flow totally ceases when the pressure falls below approximately 6 mm

The critical closing pressure

- Elastic and collagen fibers determine the distensibility and compliance of
o Arteries have a low volume capacity, but can withstand large
transmural pressure differences
o Veins have a large volume capacity but can withstand only small
transmural pressure difference
o Volume distensibility expresses the elastic properties of blood vessels

3 measurements for assessing distensibility

Absolute distensibility
o Change in volume for a macroscopic step change in
Normalized distensibility
o Most useful index of distensibility
o The volume and pressure values are minute
o The steeper the slope of a pressure-volume
diagram, the greater the compliance
- Differences in compliance cause arteries to act as resistors, and veins to act
as capacitors
- Laplaces law describes how tension in the vessel wall increases with
transmural pressure