Compliance of blood vessels also referred to as distensibility or capacitance, is defined as the ability of a blood vessel to adjust the blood pressure and increase the volume of blood that it can hold. When the pressure increases, vessels distend or swell, and when the pressure decrease, their volume decreases. Compliance is low in blood vessels that are less elastic, such as large arteries, and high in more elastic vessels, such as small veins. In general, compliance decreases with age because the walls of larger arteries tend to become more rigid.
The decrease in compliance with age can cause several problems. For example, increased stiffness of the large arteries can lead to hypertension because the heart has to work harder to push blood through these stiffened vessels. The reduced flexibility of arterial walls may also impede blood flow to different body parts, which can result in tissue damage.
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