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Definition - What does vasodilation mean?

Vasodilation is the term used to describe the widening of blood vessels. When a blood vessel widens or dilates more blood can pass through the vessel. This process increases blood flow to the cells of the body while lowering blood pressure and heart rate.

Vasodilation occurs when the smooth muscles within the walls of the blood vessels relax. As the walls relax, there is less resistance (pressure) and blood can pass through the vessels more easily.

SureHire explains vasodilation

Vasodilation may occur as the body’s natural response to internal or external stimuli or may be triggered by exposure to drugs or chemicals. For example, vasodilation serves as part of the body’s response to hot temperatures. Dilated vessels allow more blood to be delivered to the skin’s surface to aid in cooling the body.

Medications used to treat high blood pressure act as vasodilators, relaxing the blood vessels and reducing the force needed to blood to the body’s cells. Vasodilation may also occur during exercise to allow an increased volume of oxygen to rapidly reach working muscles. The opposite of vasodilation, vasoconstriction may also occur as the body adjusts to redirect blood flow and maintain blood pressure.

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