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Artery that carries blood from the heart to all the organs and structures of the body. Where the left ventricle opens into the aorta, a valve prevents backflow of blood into the heart. The aorta ascends from the heart, arches over it to the left, then descends into the trunk. Arteries branch off along its length until it divides at hip level into arteries that go to the legs.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on aorta, visit Britannica.com.