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Question Video: Relating the Structure and Function of Arteries Biology

Why do arteries have thick, muscular walls containing elastic fibers? [A] To allow the transport of substances to other cells [B] To prevent the backflow of blood [C] To prevent oxygen from being lost from the blood [D] To help them carry blood at low pressure [E] To help them carry blood at high pressure

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Video Transcript

Why do arteries have thick, muscular walls containing elastic fibers? (A) To allow the transport of substances to other cells. (B) To prevent the backflow of blood. (C) To prevent oxygen from being lost from the blood. (D) To help them carry blood at low pressure. Or (E) to help them carry blood at high pressure.

You may recall that when blood is pumped out of the heart, it leaves through the arteries. Let’s have a look at a cross section through an artery. We can see that the artery has a narrow lumen. This is the cylindrical space through which the blood flows. It also has a thick wall, which is composed of smooth muscle and elastic fibers. But why does the artery have these properties?

Because blood flowing out of the heart has to be transported all around the body, it must be under high pressure. Arteries must therefore be well adapted to withstand and maintain this pressure as the blood moves through them. If they weren’t, the arteries would either burst or the blood flowing through them would stop moving before it reached all the parts of the body that required it.

We have therefore determined that the correct answer is (E). Arteries have thick, muscular walls containing elastic fibers to help them carry blood at high pressure.

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