Varicose Veins – 40 Informal Points Introduction

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Varicose Veins – 40 Informal Points


An estimated 62,000 miles of blood vessels ensure that oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the trillions of cells in your body, and that waste products are taken away for disposal. If all of these blood vessels were laid out end to end, they would wrap around the Earth twice! This transportation system within your body consists of a series of tubes that branch out and come back together, making sure to service even the tiniest of tissues. Arteries carry blood away from the heart while veins transport blood back to the heart. Connecting these two types of vessels are tiny branches called capillaries, the site of gas exchange. Just like everything in the body, structure is highly linked to function. Since arteries and veins work in opposite directions, their structures have key differences that support what they do for the human body.

Your grandmother has noticed that she is starting to see her veins popping out on the back of her legs. Her doctor tells her that the development of these spider veins, or varicose veins, is normal for her age. She is prepared to “grow old gracefully,” but she does want more information about the cause of these annoying, wiggly veins. She knows you are taking Human Body Systems, so she comes to you for advice.

In this activity, you will explore the structure and function of veins and arteries by investigating the cause of spider veins or varicose veins. You have probably heard of varicose veins, but why haven’t you ever heard of varicose arteries?


  1. Use a microscope to view a prepared slide of a cross section of an artery, a vein and a capillary. In the table below, use colored pencils to draw what you see. Label each vessel and make sure to note the magnification.







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