Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Heart Diseases

pp 40-48



The largest artery in the body is the aorta, which takes blood from the heart and runs from the chest into the abdomen, lying against the spine until it reaches the pelvis. It divides at that point into iliac arteries that supply blood to the pelvis, buttocks, and legs (see Fig. 1). Because the aorta takes the full force of blood ejected from the heart, it is the most likely artery in the body to weaken and expand to form an aneurysm.
Aneurysms. Fig. 1

Abdomina aortic Aneurysm

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm


The abdominal aorta is commonly affected by atheroma and the process of atherosclerosis (see chapter Atherosclerosis/​Atheroma). Atherosclerotic disease causes thickening of the intima. This thickening appears to reduce the diffusion of oxygen and nutrients from the aortic lumen to the strong middle wall of aorta. This causes degeneration of the elastic elements and weakening of the walls of the aorta. The elastic wall of the aorta may ...

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