Medical Specialties: Cardiology, Family practice, Internal medicine

Clinical Definition

The aorta is the body's largest artery. The left ventricle (chamber) of the heart pumps blood rich in oxygen through the aortic valve and into the aorta. From there, the aorta distributes blood to the general circulation.

In Our Own Words

The role of the largest artery of the human body, the aorta, is to receive blood from the heart's left ventricle (chamber) and distribute it to other parts of the body. The function of the aorta and its valve can be compromised by a number of conditions, including aortic aneurysms.

When the aortic valve doesn't close all the way, small amounts of blood can regurgitate or leak back into the heart, a condition known as aortic insufficiency. While commonly thought of as a large, arching vessel near the heart, the aorta actually descends through the chest and abdomen, where aneurysms may also develop.

Relevant Conditions
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Hypertension
  • Atherosclerosis
Share this article
  • American Heart Association. "Aorta." Heart and Stroke Encyclopedia 2013. Accessed July 2013.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. "Thoracic aortic aneurysm." Encyclopedia 2011. Accessed July 2013.
  • American Heart Association. "How The Healthy Heart Works." Conditions April 2012. Accessed July 2013.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Aortic Aneurysm Fact Sheet." Fact Sheets. Accessed July 2013.
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