What do arteries do?

Arteries are strong tubes, or vessels, that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Arteries transport blood containing oxygen and nutrients to smaller tubes called arterioles, which then deliver blood to even smaller vessels called capillaries. Capillaries are tiny, thin blood vessels that allow oxygen and nutrients to flow to nearby tissue. The tissue extracts the nutrients and oxygen from the blood.

After the oxygen and nutrients have been delivered to the body’s tissues by the capillaries, another network in the body, made up of venules and veins, carries this oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart.

The arteries throughout the body support many systems and are critical to your cardiovascular health and many other functions of your blood, including nutrient delivery.

Your arteries are strong and flexible, but they can become less effective over time. A substance called plaque can build up in the arteries, restricting blood flow and ultimately stopping or blocking it altogether. This plaque can cause serious cardiovascular disease that leads to  heart attack, stroke, peripheral artery disease or renal artery disease.

Continue Learning about Heart and Circulatory System

Heart and Circulatory System

Heart and Circulatory System

Your circulatory system is made up of your heart and three main types of blood vessels -- arteries, veins and capillaries. Your heart is at the center of the system, acting as a pump to distribute nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood t...

hrough your body; it then takes away carbon dioxide and other waste your body doesn't need. Signs of poor circulation include cold hands and feet, numbness, dizziness, migraines, varicose veins and pain in your feet or legs. Untreated, poor circulation can lead to stroke, high blood pressure, kidney damage and other diseases. Learn more about your heart and circulatory system with expert advice from Sharecare.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.