Stiff Arteries - what does it mean?

Stiff Arteries - what does it mean?

As you grow older, one of the things your doctor may have talked to you about was stiffness in your arteries.

What exactly does it mean? Why did your arteries get stiff? What was the effect of it? Is there something you can do to fix it? 

Your arteries are tubes that carry blood away from your heart. Every cell in your body relies on them to deliver oxygen and nutrient-rich blood.

The design of your arteries ensures that their size and capacity align with your needs. So, for example, your aorta, the largest artery, is between 10 and 25 mm thick. Your arterioles, or smaller arteries, can be as small as 0.3 to 0.01 mm thick.

Your blood pressure changes as it flows through your body.

Depending on whether you are lying down or sprinting, the pressure you exert on the walls of your arteries changes.

Your arteries are remarkable. They are flexible and expand in diameter to accommodate pressure changes.

Robert Hooke's law, or Hookes Law, explains to us the benefit of an artery that can change diameter.

The Brittanica tells us that "Hooke's Law is a principle of physics that states that the force needed to extend or compress a spring by some distance is proportional to that distance."

In simpler words, if the diameter of your artery changes, it can accommodate the additional pressure your blood pressure is exerting. But what does all of this have to do with stiff arteries? 

When your arteries get stiff, they lose the ability to be pliant. Now, when your blood pressure changes, your arteries do not expand to meet the need of the change in blood pressure.

The force of the blood pressure starts to damage the aterial walls, damaging them in the process. 

I am simplyfing, but your body uses nitric oxide to help create the ability of your arteries to expand and contract.

Eating foods that help you produce nitric oxide can help reduce arterial stiffness.

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