The arteries are the blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the tissues of the body. Each artery is a muscular tube lined by smooth tissue and has three layers:
- The intima, the inner layer lined by a smooth tissue called endothelium
- The media, a layer of muscle that lets arteries handle the high pressures from the heart
- The adventitia, connective tissue anchoring arteries to nearby tissues
The largest artery is the aorta, the main high-pressure pipeline connected to the heart's left ventricle. The aorta branches into a network of smaller arteries that extend throughout the body. The arteries' smaller branches are called arterioles and capillaries. The pulmonary arteries carry oxygen-poor blood from the heart to the lungs under low pressure, making these arteries unique.
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