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An artery , in Latin artery , is a blood vessel that (with the exception of the coronary arteries ) carries blood away from the heart . It is also called the artery or wrist artery after the pulses of the heartbeat that can be felt in large arteries . The structure of the arteries should keep the blood pressure generated by the heart stable. In the systemic circulation , they transport oxygen- rich blood ( "arterial blood"). The arteries of the pulmonary circulation going from the right heart to the lungs, however, contain oxygen-poor blood. The arteries of humans contain only about 20% of the total blood volume (post mortem still about 2% due to the pressure gradient). Arteries branch out into ever smaller arteries and then via arterioles into so-called hair vessels ( capillaries ). Blood vessels that carry blood back from the body to the heart are commonly called veins .

Word origin

Latin arteria comes from ancient Greek αρτηρία artēría , German , Luftrohr, Luftröhre; Air vein, pulse vein ' ; from a (ë) rter , 'from which something is hung up' (in relation to the lungs suspended from the windpipe or bronchi), from ancient Greek. aë (i) purely 'tie up, hang up' . According to folk etymology, the artery was based on ancient Greek ὁ ἀήρ, ἀέρος or aër , `` air '', ancient Greek τηρέειν `` contain '' on the assumption that arteries are filled with air (arteries were also considered to be a conduit not only for blood, but also for that which is just as vital Pneuma ).


Cross-section through a human elastic-type artery: (1) lumen with some erythrocytes, (2) tunica intima , (3) membrana elastica interna, (4) tunica media , (5) membrana elastica externa, (6) tunica adventitia / externa

Depending on their function and location, arteries have to meet various requirements and therefore also differ in their structure:

  • muscular type (arteries myotypicae): these smaller arteries are located relatively remote cardiac (peripheral) and, as resistance vessels u. a. With their smooth muscles, they play a key role in maintaining blood pressure, as they can produce the required blood pressure by narrowing their diameter (if they do not, one speaks of orthostatic dysregulation with dizziness and weakness attacks, especially after getting up)
  • Elastic type (Arteriae elastotypicae): These large vessels close to the heart physiologically convert the pulsatile blood flow, which is caused by the jerky heartbeat (the systole ), into a quasi-continuous flow - the so-called wind kettle function - and thus protect in the periphery of the circulatory system, the organs and tissues from dangerous blood pressure peaks or valleys . In arteriosclerosis , this vibrational property is greatly reduced or completely extinguished, which can result in permanent, pathological high blood pressure up to hypertensive crisis , transient ischemic attacks (short-term loss of consciousness caused by low blood pressure), strokes (caused by mass bleeding when blood pressure is too high or insufficient supply when blood pressure is too low ) or the rupture of a vascular sac ( aneurysm ).
  • Mixed type: The transition form from muscular to elastic type is called mixed type or Arteriae mixtotypicae.
  • Barrier arteries (arteriae convolutae): These are arteries that can narrow their lumen to such an extent that no blood flow occurs. For this purpose, they have a special wall structure that establishes its own type. In the vessel walls there are smooth muscles oriented along the direction of flow.

Wall construction

Wall construction of the artery

The vessel walls of the arteries are thicker (richer in muscle), have a much more pronounced layering and are less elastic than the veins .

Basically, an arterial wall composed of three layers whose components all Latin - anatomical have names; seen from the blood-carrying side these are:

  • The tunica interna (also intima ) consists of a single-layer endothelium , the layer of loose connective tissue and the stratum subendotheliale on top , followed by the membrana elastica interna (particularly well developed in the muscular, peripheral arteries).
  • The tunica media (or shortly Media ) is at the peripheral arteries of a plurality of tightly fitting, ring-shaped and constructed obliquely wound muscle layers also resilient fibers and those made from collagen include, similarly constructed in the elastic arteries, but with more collagen and many vibratory and fenestrated membranes (in some cases there is also an external elastic membrane between the media and the adventitia )
  • The tunica externa (also known as tunica adventitia ), which consists primarily of elastic and collagenous, fibrous connective tissue and feeds and controls the entire artery via its vasa vasorum ( the vessels of the vessels ) and nerves (nervi vasorum).

Large arteries

The largest artery in the human body is the aorta (main artery) with a diameter of about three centimeters. Other larger arteries are:

Web links

Commons : arteries  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: artery  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Petrus Dasypodius : Dictionarium latinogermanicum et vice versa germanolatinicum ... , Theodosius Rihel, 5th edition Strasbourg 1569, Hh IV ("Arteria: Eyn pulßader, lufftader").
  2. See also Hans Balzli (Hrsg.): Vocabularies in the Codex Salernitanus of the Breslauer Stadtbibliothek (No. 1302) and in a Munich manuscript (Lat. 4622), both from the XII. Century. Leipzig 1931 (= Studies on the History of Medicine. Volume 21), pp. 14 and 46 ("Arteria est corpus oblongum et rotundum, [ad] instar canalis, duabus tunicis consistens, a corde [incipiens et] in omne corpus divisum, aerem et spiritum vitalem [vel naturalem] continens ”).
  3. Jutta Kollesch : Investigations on the pseudogalenic definitiones medicae. Philosophical dissertation Berlin 1970; in a modified version: Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1973 (= writings on the history and culture of antiquity. Volume 7), p. 101 f.
  4. ^ Karl-Wilhelm Grabert: The Nomina anatomica of the German surgeons Hieronymus Brunschwig and Hans von Gersdorff, their relationship to Guy de Chauliac and their relationship to the Jenenser Nomina anatomica of 1935. A contribution to the history of anatomical nomenclature [...] . Medical dissertation Leipzig 1943, pp. 249-254 ("Arteries are air veins of the spiritual plut and come from the heart").
  5. Hjalmar Frisk: Greek etymological dictionary. I-III, Heidelberg 1960-1972; Reprinted there in 1973 (= Indo-European Library , 2nd series). Volume 1, p. 155.
  6. Ludwig August Kraus: Critical-etymologisches medicinisches Lexikon [...]. Verlag der Deuerlich- und Dieterichschen Buchhandlung, 3rd edition. Göttingen 1844, p. 125.
  7. ^ Franz Dornseiff : The Greek words in German. De Gruyter, Berlin 1950, p. 53.