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What is tortuous aorta?

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Quick Answer

A tortuous aorta is an aorta with a twisted or distorted shape. A tortuous aorta may increase the risk for a variety of conditions or complications, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

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Full Answer

The aorta is the largest artery in the human body, and distributes freshly oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The aorta is divided anatomically into four segments: the ascending aorta, aortic arch, thoracic aorta and abdominal aorta.

The ascending aorta originates at the opening of the aortic valve of the heart, and shares a pericardial sheath with the pulmonary trunk. The aortic arch loops over the right pulmonary artery and descends downward to the descending portion of the aorta. The descending aorta can be divided into thoracic and abdominal segments, relative to the cavity in which they are contained.

According to the American Heart Association, twisting of the thoracic segment is most common among the elderly. A tortuous aorta may be associated with low circulation, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Esophageal pain may also be experienced due to displacement by a tortuous aorta.

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