Arteries make up a major part of the circulatory system, with the veins and heart being the other main components. Arteries make up tubelike structures that are responsible for the transportation of fluid (i.e., blood for the circulatory system and lymph for the lymphatic system) to and from every organ in the body. Mainly, arteries manage the transportation of oxygen, nutrients, and hormones through our bodies. Arteries can dispense fresh oxygen to the body after it gets loaded onto the Fe 2+ found in the center of hemoglobin. The oxygen binds to hemoglobin and is carried by the arteries to areas that are lacking oxygen. Through a shift in affinity for the oxygen, it is then unloaded to specific areas through high surface areas knowns as capillaries. Far from being a changeless structure, arteries adapt through signals received from the central nervous system, as they also react to an outer stimulus like pressure, temperature, and substances. Vascular nerves are responsible for innervating the arteries allowing them to change to their stimuli. As catecholamines get released into the blood, the nerves send signals to the arteries to either constrict or dilate, leading to changes in pressure.
Arteries are composed of smooth muscle allowing constriction and dilation through the parasympathetic nervous system. Arteries differ from veins in the sense that they most often are carrying oxygenated blood away from the heart and into the rest of the body system. This is not always the case; however, as the pulmonary artery moves unoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs to complete the gas exchange in the alveoli. Arteries play a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis in the body. As individuals age, health issues begin presenting themselves in the form of stiffening or thicking of the arteries; however, many different issues develop with age and poor diet. Additionally, arteries begin to clog with a thicking of plaque known as atherosclerosis. As problems arise in the structure of the arteries, it begins leading to more strain on the heart, which develops congestive heart failure and which is often fatal. The arteries are vital to maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system, thus a healthy lifestyle.