What Is The Difference between Arteries and Veins?

So, what is the main difference between arteries and veins? The former transport oxygenated blood to various parts of the body while the latter transport deoxygenated away from body parts to the heart for purification. 

The blood circulatory system helps to nourish living organisms with oxygen, nutrients, and hormones. It also helps to get rid of carbon dioxide and other metabolic wastes. 

Higher organisms have a well-structured heart that helps to facilitate blood circulation. The blood flow through developed vessels and channels to reach every part of the body.  Some of the main blood vessels responsible for blood circulation are arteries, veins, and capillaries. But these blood vessels usually play different roles in the body. 

The pulmonary artery and vein do not carry deoxygenated blood. Therefore, learning about the structural difference between arteries and veins is crucial.  This article provides further differences between arteries and veins in a tabular form. Take the time to read through and get to know the histological difference between arteries and veins. 

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Difference between Arteries and Veins (With Table)

Basic Terms




Blood vessels that transport oxygenated blood away from the heart.

Blood vessels that transport deoxygenated blood to the heart.

Physical Appearance




Occur deeper in the body.

Occur close to the skin surface.


Oxygenated blood except for the pulmonary artery.

Deoxygenated blood except for pulmonary vein.

Oxygen Level

Comparatively high.

Comparatively low.

Carbon Dioxide Level

Relatively low.

Relatively high.

Volume of blood

About 15%

About 65%


Has three thick layer tissue:

Outer coat

Middle coat

Inner coat

Has three thin layer tissues.

Tunica Adventitia

Less developed

More developed

Tunica Media

More muscular

Less muscular

Tunica Intima

Have endothelial cells that are more elongated.

Have endothelial cells that are less elongated.

Thickest Layer

Tunica media

Tunica adventitia


Stronger and rigid

Less strong





More flexible

Not flexible




Blood pressure

High flow rate

Low flow rate

Movement of Blood

Spurt movement

Sluggish movement


Detectable from the wrist.

Not detectable




Pathway of Blood Flow

Very distinct

Not distinguishable.

Collapsing of Vessel

Remain open throughout due to the thick muscular layer.

Usually, collapse if blood flow stops.

Injury to the Blood Vessel

Squirting blood

Pooling of blood

Contraction of muscle



At the time of death

Remain empty.

Filled with blood.


Elastic arteries

Muscular arteries


Deep veins

Superficial veins

Connecting veins

Associated Diseases

Atherosclerosis, Angina Pectoris, Artherogenesis- myocardial ischemia.

Deep vein thrombosis, varicose veins.

The direction of Blood Flow

From the heart to the body tissues.

From the body tissue to the heart.

What Are Arteries?

Arteries are critical components of the circulatory system responsible for carrying oxygenated blood away from the heart to supply various tissues and organs throughout the body. These blood vessels play a pivotal role in maintaining the continuous circulation of oxygen and nutrients required for cellular function and overall physiological processes.

Arteries are characterized by their relatively thick and muscular walls, designed to withstand and channel the forceful pressure generated by the heart’s pumping action. The walls of arteries consist of three layers: the intima, media, and adventitia. The media layer, containing smooth muscle fibers, enables arteries to expand and contract, accommodating the surge of blood with each heartbeat.

Arteries branch out into smaller vessels called arterioles, which further divide into microscopic vessels known as capillaries. Capillaries facilitate the exchange of oxygen, nutrients, and waste products with the body’s tissues. After this exchange, blood is collected from the capillaries and transported back to the heart through veins.

The color of arterial blood is bright red due to its oxygen-rich content. Arteries are often deeper within the body, surrounded by tissues, and protected from external pressure. Major arteries include the aorta, which emerges from the left ventricle of the heart and branches out to supply blood to the entire body, and the pulmonary arteries, responsible for carrying deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs for oxygenation.

Understanding the structure and function of arteries is crucial for comprehending the intricacies of the circulatory system and the roles these vessels play in maintaining proper blood flow and oxygen delivery throughout the body.

What Are Veins?

Veins are a crucial component of the circulatory system, responsible for returning deoxygenated blood from various parts of the body back to the heart. As blood circulates through the body, it loses oxygen and nutrients, and veins play a vital role in transporting this oxygen-depleted blood towards the heart for reoxygenation.

Veins are characterized by thinner walls compared to arteries and are better equipped to handle lower pressure. Unlike arteries, veins possess one-way valves that prevent the backflow of blood, ensuring a unidirectional flow towards the heart. This valve system is particularly important in counteracting the force of gravity, especially in veins located in the limbs.

Veins can be classified into different types, including superficial veins, which are closer to the surface and often visible beneath the skin, and deep veins, which lie deeper within the body and are surrounded by tissues and muscles. Superficial veins are responsible for draining blood from the skin and superficial tissues, while deep veins handle the majority of blood return from the muscles and organs.

The merging of smaller veins called venules forms larger veins, ultimately leading to two major veins—the superior vena cava, which collects deoxygenated blood from the upper part of the body, and the inferior vena cava, which gathers blood from the lower part of the body. Both these major veins return blood to the right atrium of the heart, initiating the pulmonary circulation process.

In addition to their role in blood circulation, veins serve as reservoirs that can store blood, helping to regulate blood volume and maintain overall cardiovascular function. Understanding the structure and function of veins is essential for comprehending the complexities of the circulatory system and how it ensures the efficient transport of blood throughout the body.

Main Difference Between Arteries and Veins  

  1. The main role of arteries is to transport oxygenated blood except for the pulmonary artery while veins transport deoxygenated blood except for pulmonary veins.
  2. The oxygenated blood carried by arteries is reddish in color while deoxygenated blood carried by veins is bluish.
  3. Arteries tend to occur deep into the body while veins are located closer to the skin surface of the body.
  4. The lumen in arteries is quite narrower to generate more pressure while veins have a wider lumen which enhances low pressure.
  5. The total amount of blood transported by arteries is about 30% while that of the veins is about 65%. The rest 5% is transported by capillaries.
  6. Blood flow in the arteries is under high pressure while that of the veins is under low pressure.
  7. Pulmonary and systemic arteries are types of arteries while superficial veins, deep veins, pulmonary veins and systemic veins are types of veins.
  8. Common diseases affecting arteries are Atherosclerosis, and Myocardial ischemia while veins are deep vein thrombosis.

Similarities between Arteries and Veins

  1. Both are blood vessels
  2. Both carry blood
  3. Blood circulation is unidirectional in both
  4. Both consist of a layer of cells
  5. Both have three layers
  6. Both are covered by muscular tissues
  7. Both experiences vasoconstriction and vasodilation
  8. Both show anastomosis

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Arteries and veins are fundamental components of the circulatory system, but they exhibit distinct anatomical and functional differences. Arteries carry oxygenated blood away from the heart to various parts of the body, while veins transport deoxygenated blood back to the heart.

Arteries, characterized by thicker walls, are designed to withstand the high pressure generated by the heart’s pumping action. The walls contain elastic fibers that allow them to expand and contract, helping to propel blood forward. Arteries branch into smaller vessels, arterioles, and ultimately into capillaries, where the exchange of oxygen, nutrients, and waste products occurs with the body’s tissues.

In contrast, veins have thinner walls and lower pressure, as they transport blood back to the heart. Veins contain one-way valves that prevent the backflow of blood and assist in maintaining a continuous flow toward the heart. Veins merge into larger vessels, venules, which eventually return blood to the heart via the superior and inferior vena cava.

Color is another distinguishing feature, as arteries appear bright red due to oxygenated blood, while veins appear darker due to deoxygenated blood. Additionally, arteries are often deeper within the body, protected by surrounding tissues, while veins are more superficial and visible beneath the skin.

Understanding the differences between arteries and veins is crucial for comprehending the intricate dynamics of the circulatory system and the roles each plays in maintaining overall physiological function. Arteries transport oxygen-rich blood to the body’s tissues, while veins return oxygen-depleted blood to the heart, collectively contributing to the continuous circulation of blood throughout the body.

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