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Elasticity in Arteries

A similar combination of rubbery and stiff materials creates common mechanical properties in blood vessels of vertebrates and some invertebrates

Robert Shadwick

Figure 1. Arteries from many different animalsClick to Enlarge Image

An animal's cells need a constant flow of blood through the arteries to deliver nutrients and carry away wastes. How can that be accomplished with a pump—the heart—that cycles on and off? The pulsatile flow from the heart must be damped, or converted to a comparatively smooth flow, and that gets accomplished by elasticity in the arteries. Shadwick explains how an artery's elasticity smooths blood flow in a wide variety of animals. He also describes the arterial components that provide stretchiness and others that provide strength.


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