The large blood vessel (artery) that receives the output of the left ventricle of the heart. The aorta is the first and largest (in diameter) artery of the systemic circulation.
Following ventricular contraction (systole), hydrostatic pressure within the ventricle exceeds the pressure in the aorta, which forces blood out of the left ventricle, through the aortic semilunar valve, and into the aorta. As the ventricle relaxes during diastole, the pressure within the left ventricle drops to a level below that in the aorta. At this point, the aortic semilunar valve closes, which prevents the backflow of blood from the aorta to the left ventricle.
Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014 Last updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014