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What Is The Function Of The Descending Aorta In The Heart?

Aorta, which starts at the heart’s pumping chamber, the left ventricle, is the largest artery in the human body. During the functioning of the heart, it pumps the blood from the left ventricle that passes through the aortic valve and reaches the aorta. For every heartbeat, the aortic valve allows passage of blood in one direction when the three leaflets present in it open and close.

Coming to the dimensions the aorta measures one foot in length and approximately an inch in diameter. Aorta consists of the following four sections:

  • The ascending aorta is two inches long and protrudes up. The coronary arteries branch off from this aorta to supply blood to the heart.
  • The aortic arch over the heart that helps in raising the branches, which further allow the movement of blood into the neck, head, and arms.
  • The descending thoracic aorta travels from the chests and consists of small branches that supply blood to a few chest structures and the ribs.
  • The abdominal aorta originates from the diaphragm and splits in the lower abdomen to convert into the paired iliac arteries.

Layers Of Aorta Wall

Intima: The intima is the inner layer, which is smooth for it provides the support for the free flow of the blood.

The Media: The media is the medium layer, which consists of elastic fibers and muscle. The layer expands and contracts for every heartbeat.

Adventitia: The outer layer is the adventitia, which provides structural support.

What Is The Function Of The Descending Aorta In The Heart?

What Is The Function Of The Descending Aorta In The Heart?

The starting point of the descending aorta is at the aortic arch. It loops across the heart to begin its descending journey. Additionally, the descending aorta consists of two segments – abdominal aorta and the thoracic aorta. The thoracic aorta or the descending aorta lies between the diaphragm muscle and the aorta.

The descending aorta, which begins at the aortic arch, branches out from the heart from the left vertebrae. Due to the descending action, it spirals across the vertebrae and stops the journey at the front. The artery measures 2.32 centimeters in diameter and possesses six paired the branches – mediastinal arteries, pericardial arteries, bronchial arteries, esophageal arteries, intercostal arteries, and superior phrenic artery. Intercostal arteries exist in nine pairs. Because of the branching from the left vertebrae, the branches of the artery are long in the right side when compared with that of the left.

The several branches of the arteries across the descending aorta help in supply blood to lungs, the chest region, esophagus, mammary glands, and the ribs.

Effect of Health On The Functioning Of Descending Aorta

An increase in blood pressure along with abnormal cholesterol level is responsible for the buildup of plaques that make it difficult for passage of the blood pumped through the heart. Due to this, an individual experiences heart stroke. Along with that, when there is a weakness developed in the aortic wall, the blood flow causes to create a balloon. The medical term for such situation is an aortic aneurysm. The aneurysms grow over a period at a slow pace. It is difficult to find its presence because it does not display any signs of early symptoms. However, when ruptured, it poses a threat to the life.

Other health effects include aortic dissection, aortic insufficiency, aortic stenosis, coarctation of the aorta, aortitis, and bicuspid aortic valve.

Detecting these effects in early stages will be helpful in overcoming critical situations. Screening for the presence of any of the conditions includes MRI scan, CT scan, angiography, x-ray, abdominal ultrasound, and transthoracic echocardiogram.


  1. Cleveland Clinic – Anatomy of the Aorta: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17411-anatomy-of-the-aorta
  2. Stanford Children’s Health – The Aorta: https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=the-aorta-85-P00682
  3. Verywell Health – Aorta: Anatomy, Function, and Conditions: https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-aorta-anatomy-4582389
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 26, 2023

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