Did you know that the prefix “vaso” means blood vessel? That makes the words vasoconstriction and vasodilation a lot easier to understand! Vasoconstriction and vasodilation have everything to do with the size of your blood vessels and how much blood can pass through them.

Blood Pressure Monitor

Vasoconstriction

Vasoconstriction is the narrowing or constriction of the blood vessels. This makes the blood vessel opening much narrower. Vasoconstriction is a normal process that helps keep your blood and body in balance. Blood vessels are automatically controlled by chemicals signaled by the brain that tell the muscles to constrict.

Possible causes of vasoconstriction

  • Stabilize blood pressure
  • Reduce loss of body heat in cold temperatures
  • Control the distribution of blood throughout your body
  • Protect your body against fluid loss
  • Send more nutrients through the blood stream faster

Effects of vasoconstriction

  • Temporary rise in blood pressure
  • Can lead to chronic high blood pressure or hypertension
  • May cause migraines
  • Can also alleviate headaches
  • Vasoconstriction in the brain can lead to a stroke

Doctor measuring blood pressure of patient

Vasodilation

Vasodilation is the widening of blood vessels. It allows more blood to flow through the vessel to the part of the body that needs it. This process is natural, normal, and often very needed.

Possible causes of vasodilation

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Exercise as muscles require more oxygen
  • Inflammation such as injuries, infections, allergic reactions, and chronic diseases
  • The temperature and elevation of your environment
  • Supplements
  • Age, weight

Effects of vasodilation

  • Potential drop in blood pressure
  • Can lead to chronic low blood pressure, or hypotension
  • Dizziness, fainting, and nausea

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