Nothing works without them: The aorta, medically also called aorta, forms the outflow tract from the heart to the branching into the pelvic and leg arteries and works so to speak "with high pressure" at the blood supply of the entire organism, around the clock, 365 days in the year, for many decades. Attention should therefore be paid to its main artery, so that this task passes by without any trace even in old age.

What is the aorta?

The main artery (aorta) is the largest artery of the human body and the starting point of the entire blood supply.

It rises from the left ventricle, then in the adult about 2.5-3.5 cm wide in diameter and runs "walking stick-shaped" over a length of 30-40 cm to its branching into the pelvic arteries.

All blood of the body must pass through this blood vessel before it is then distributed further into the head, arms, stomach and legs.

Anatomy & Construction

The anatomy is the same except for minor variations in all people: The main artery originates from the left ventricle, the "high pressure system" of the heart, and initially runs upside down, where it then makes a bow above the heart in the middle of the thorax to the left half of the body and finally tilts down and pulls left before the spine through the chest and abdomen down.

The first blood vessels emerging from the aorta are the coronary arteries, along the aortic arch then the supplying vessels for the arms and head go up.

In the further course, the aorta supplies the individual rib segments and the entire abdominal cavity with blood via defined outlets, before dividing them into the right and left pelvic artery at the level of the navel at the so-called "aortic bifurcation". These then continue to pull down to reach the pelvic space and legs.

Function & Tasks

The function of the main artery is the supply of blood to the entire body, in which oxygen and nutrients are supplied and metabolic end products can be removed.

In order to be able to ensure this supply against the force of gravity in the head or in the case of the most strenuous physical exertion down to the last muscle cell, the heart must build up a tremendous pressure, the arterial blood pressure. In healthy adults, this should be around 120/80 mmHg, which is a maximum of 120 centimeters on the mercury column, a historically determined medical measuring instrument.

The main artery must now withstand this pressure and forward it as possible without major reductions in the periphery. For this purpose, the wall of the aorta is somewhat stretchable, especially in its curved course, so as to be able to build up a kind of pressure reservoir even in the millisecond intervals in which the heart is not actively pumping.

The extensibility of the wall is thus important to ensure its function and is severely impaired by calcification of the vessel wall (arteriosclerosis).

Diseases & complaints

The insidious thing about diseases of the main artery is that the person affected often notices them until it is already too late. They are usually asymptomatic, ie "without symptoms".

The basis of these life-threatening diseases are mostly arteriosclerosis and hypertension. By calcifying the arterial wall, the ductility is impaired, the diameter narrows and possibly vessel branches to vital organs, such as the abdomen, relocated. The latter, for example, can lead to regularly recurring abdominal pain after eating, so if the intestine needs a lot of blood for digestion and this can not get through the constricted vessel.

The calcification and narrowing of the main artery then results in a reaction of the heart, which raises the blood pressure to still ensure the supply of the body through the narrowed aorta. This in turn damages the vessel wall even more - creating a vicious circle. Two immediate life threatening emergencies are the "aortic dissection" and the "ruptured aortic aneurysm".

In dissection, the blood digs through calcified wall areas into the vessel wall and relocates both the vascular drains to the brain and the main artery itself. Sudden and without any history incipient sharp chest or back pain are here an urgent reason for the immediate emergency call!

An aortic aneurysm, on the other hand, is a prolapse of the blood vessel wall caused by high blood pressure, which usually develops in the abdomen and often goes unnoticed for years. However, the Aussackung dilutes the vessel wall of the main artery, so that it eventually tears, so "ruptured". One possible consequence is internal bleeding, which only becomes noticeable through pain when it is already too late.

Risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood lipid levels, smoking and diabetes mellitus should be avoided or treated for this reason.

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