What is an Aorta?

J. Beam
J. Beam
The aorta and its network supply the body's major organs with oxygenated blood.
The aorta and its network supply the body's major organs with oxygenated blood.

The aorta is both the main artery of the body and the largest artery in the body. It acts as the central supply source of oxygenated blood flow throughout the body and plays a large role in circulation. Beginning at the heart's left ventricle, it travels upwards, slightly over, and then down through the abdomen, where it branches off into the left and right iliac arteries that run through the legs. This artery is often referred to in divided sections called the ascending aorta, the aortic arch, the thoracic or descending aorta and the abdominal aorta.

Defects of the aorta can be outgrown, or surgery may be necessary.
Defects of the aorta can be outgrown, or surgery may be necessary.

The ascending aorta is the section that goes up directly from the heart. The aortic arch is the part that arches slightly back and over the left lung. As it goes down again through the thorax, it becomes the thoracic, or descending, aorta and then the abdominal aorta before it divides into the iliac arteries. It also branches off into smaller arteries that travel to the neck, the head, and the arms, which essentially supply the body's major organs and tissues with oxygenated blood.

The aorta acts as the center of blood flow and the origin of major arteries, including the carotid artery.
The aorta acts as the center of blood flow and the origin of major arteries, including the carotid artery.

Like a network of tunnels that the heart pumps blood into, the aorta acts as the center of blood flow and the origin of all other major arteries, including the carotid artery and the pulmonary artery. The aortic valve controls the blood flow pumped into the aorta and prevents oxygenated blood from reentering the left ventricle.

Problems with the aorta are often the result of a heart defect at birth, but they can also develop over time. It is not uncommon for the aortic valve to work improperly in newborns and preemies. Sometimes, the heart defect is outgrown and other times, surgical repair is necessary. Narrowing of this and other arteries is not uncommon and is often the cause of poor circulation.

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Discussion Comments

anon3229

what is a dilated aorta 2 DR.s had diagnosed me with it but my primary care dr told me don't worry about it and canceled they're recommendations. i was to receive a ct scan to make sure it was not getting worse. it was already slightly over the limit.

anon609

What is the crucial measurement for surgery please. Is it 5cm in length, or 5cm width of the aneurysm in the aorta.

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    • The aorta and its network supply the body's major organs with oxygenated blood.
      By: bilderzwerg
      The aorta and its network supply the body's major organs with oxygenated blood.
    • Defects of the aorta can be outgrown, or surgery may be necessary.
      By: Rafael Ben-Ari
      Defects of the aorta can be outgrown, or surgery may be necessary.
    • The aorta acts as the center of blood flow and the origin of major arteries, including the carotid artery.
      By: Sebastian Kaulitzki
      The aorta acts as the center of blood flow and the origin of major arteries, including the carotid artery.
    • Problems with the aorta are often due to heart defects that are either present at birth or develop over time.
      By: Olexandr
      Problems with the aorta are often due to heart defects that are either present at birth or develop over time.
    • Poor function in any part of the aorta may require surgical repair.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Poor function in any part of the aorta may require surgical repair.
    • The aorta is at the center of blood flow and the origin of all major arteries, including the carotid.
      By: stockshoppe
      The aorta is at the center of blood flow and the origin of all major arteries, including the carotid.
    • The aorta is the largest artery in the body.
      By: 7activestudio
      The aorta is the largest artery in the body.
    • The ascending aorta transports blood upward from the left ventricle of the heart.
      By: peterjunaidy
      The ascending aorta transports blood upward from the left ventricle of the heart.
    • It is not uncommon for the aortic valve to work improperly in newborns.
      By: cantor pannatto
      It is not uncommon for the aortic valve to work improperly in newborns.