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Vasodilation describes an increase in diameter of blood vessels. This action results from smooth muscles in the blood vessels relaxing. Vasodilation is most-pronounced in larger tissues such as veins and arteries.

During vasodilation, blood flow is increased thereby decreasing blood pressure. This is characterized by an accompanying drop in vascular resistance and increased output by the heart. This type of response may be in response to local, non-local, and exogenous stimuli. One example of exogenous vasodilators are blood thinners.

Vasodilation can occur at a local level based on specific need, such as during periods of physical exercise, or on a holistic scale to maintain homeostasis. A functional definition of vasodilation is that it’s the means by which blood flow is increased to a particular area of the body.

Vasodilation is the opposite of vasoconstriction. Some common endogenous compounds responsible for local and systemic vasodilation are as follows:

  • Histamine
  • Adenosine (extracellular)
  • L-Arginine
  • Niacin
  • Carbon Di-Oxide (CO2)
  • Working Out