The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body. Read more about her anatomy and function as well as important diseases of the aorta here!


The aorta or the main artery is the central vessel in the bloodstream. The heart pumps blood from the left ventricle directly into this thickest of all vessels. Five liters per minute flows through it in peace with an adult. Read all important information about the aorta here!

Product Overview


  • The central vessel

  • Section of the aorta

  • Structure of the aorta

  • The tasks of the aorta

  • Diseases of the main artery

The central vessel

In the adult, the aorta is about 35 to 40 centimeters long and with a diameter of about three centimeters the thickest vessel in the body. It goes directly from the left ventricle and directs the blood from the heart into the systemic circulation (circulatory system) - at rest, about five liters of blood flow per minute through the main artery, with exertion up to 30 liters. Between the left ventricle and the aorta sits the aortic valve, one of the four heart valves, which prevents a return flow of the blood.

Read also

  • AV node
  • aortic valve
  • artery
  • blood vessels
  • blood circulation
  • heart
  • heart valves
  • Coronary artery
  • Heartbeat
  • vena cava

Section of the aorta

The main artery can be roughly divided into the following sections:

The first part, which leaves from the left ventricle, is ascending and is called the ascending aorta. It lies inside the pericardium and has two branches - the two coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle.

With the passage through the pericardium, the second section of the main artery begins: It makes an arc (aortic arch, aorta) upwards and diagonally to the left rear. From the aortic arch three main branches go off, which supply with their further branches head, neck and arms.

The aortic arch is followed by the descending portion of the main artery, the descending aorta. It runs first in the chest (then called chest aorta) and then - after passing through the diaphragm - in the abdominal cavity (then called abdominal aorta). The branches of the thoracic aorta supply the lungs, chest wall and adjacent breast tissues. The branches of the abdominal aorta supply the abdominal organs.

At the lower end, the aorta divides into the two large iliac arteries, which supply the pelvis and legs with their branches.

High blood pressure can be dangerous. See here how you can measure the values ​​yourself.

Structure of the aorta

Like all major blood vessels, the wall of the main artery has three layers:

  • inner layer (intima)
  • middle layer (Media, Tunica media)
  • outer layer (Adventitia, Tunica externa)

The main artery belongs to the arteries of the elastic type. This means that the middle layer is particularly thick and contains many elastic fibers.

The tasks of the aorta

The main artery ensures blood supply, continuous blood flow and maintains arterial blood pressure.

The pumping heart produces large pressure differences in the circulatory system through contraction (systole) and relaxation (diastole). Due to their elasticity, the aorta can compensate for this and thus enable continuous blood flow. By this "wind-boiler function" she maintains the arterial blood pressure (in the healthy 120/80 mmHg), so that this also exists in more remote parts of the body.

Diseases of the main artery

In order to perform your tasks without problems, the vascular wall of the main artery must remain elastic. However, this elasticity decreases with age as deposits form on the inner walls of the aorta (and other vessels). This arteriosclerosis (arteriosclerosis) is not only age-related, but is also caused by unfavorable lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, high blood lipid levels and high blood pressure.

An abnormal saccular or spindle-shaped enlargement of the main artery is called aortic aneurysm. If she breaks suddenly, the person can bleed internally.

As an aortic dissection physicians refer to a sudden tear in the inner skin (intima) of the main artery, caused for example by arteriosclerosis or an accident. In extreme cases, the aorta at the point in question, which then (as with a torn aortic aneurysm) danger to life!

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