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Definition - What does vasoconstriction mean?

Vasoconstriction is the term used to describe the tightening of blood vessels. This tightening, or constriction, occurs when the muscles inside the walls of the blood vessel contract, reducing the interior diameter of the vessel. When vasoconstriction occurs, the volume of blood passing through the vessels decreases. This reduction in blood flow may prevent the body’s cells from receiving needed oxygen and nutrients. Vasoconstriction may also cause an increase in blood pressure as more force is needed to push blood through the narrowed vessels.

SureHire explains vasoconstriction

Vasoconstriction may occur naturally as the body relaxes and contracts the blood vessels to redirect blood supplies. For instance, in cold weather blood vessels close to the skin’s surface may contract to prevent heat loss. However, vasoconstriction may also be a symptom of an underlying health condition or be caused by exposure to certain medications, foods, or chemicals. High intake of caffeine or salt may cause vasoconstriction.

While arterial blockages and vasoconstriction both lower the volume of blood that can pass through the vessels, they are not the same. Vasoconstriction is caused by changes in the muscles in the blood vessels walls while blockages are caused by plaque or inflammation within the vessels.

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