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Arterial elasticity, the amount that an artery can distend or deform or put another way its compliance, is important for a couple of reasons. The first is that by having a deformable section present as blood is pumped out of the heart the outflow can be regulated to some degree. Meaning that since the heart releases its output in sudden bursts, rather than a simgle continuous flow, having elastic arterial walls helps even out the flow from the heart such that the output pressure and flow remain constant. A contrasting point would be if the artery was rigid, then each time between outputs there would be a drop in both pressure and flow for the rest of the system. The other important effect of arterial elasticity is the amount of work the left heart has to perform in order maintain the same amount of pressure and flow. When the elasticity decreases, as happens with age in general (atheroscler- osis), and the walls can no longer expand to accept the out going blood the left heart must work harder so that approximately the same amount of blood is pushed out. For younger people, however, this is not usually a problem, allowing for normal heart funtion with less of a work requirement.
1) What is the major factor for arterial hardening and what condition does it it cause? 2) What are two physical factors that combine to make up arterial blood pressure?
1) Age, atherosclerosis. 2) Arterial blood volume and arterial compliance.
For more information on this topic, please refer to Berne & Levy , pages 137-147
Also, check out the following links that may be helpful:
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This page was written by Dana Craig , yet another student in this course.
BME 403 Pages maintained by the T.A., Douglas Miles.