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Hemodynamics (literally "blood dynamics") is the study of the properties and flow of blood. Blood is pumped via the heart throughout the cardiovascular system. Oxygenated blood leaves the heart via a series of large arteries. As the blood travels further along these arteries the diameter becomes smaller and they the vessels become arterioles. These arterioles become capillaries and eventually venules, where deoxygenated blood passes through networks of veins back to the heart. The arteriole-capillary-venule junctions compose most of the area of the vascular system and allow the transfer of the most vitamins and nutrients.
There are many factors that influence hemodynamics: arterial/venous diameter, blood consistency, and vasculature. The study of hemodynamics in relation to neuronal function (the hemodynamic response) is the basis for functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). There is growing concern among fMRI researchers regarding individual vascular differences--especially among elderly patients--and the effects on BOLD signal.
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