The aorta is the body's major artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the whole body except the lungs. The upper branches of the aorta carry blood to the upper body (arms and head). After which, blood goes to the lower body (abdomen and legs) by the descending aorta. The narrowed segment called coarctation is usually located on the descending thoracic aorta, right after the origin of the left subclavian artery. This narrowing can increase blood pressure in your arms and head and reduce blood pressure in your legs, thus seriously straining your heart. Aortic valve abnormalities often accompany coarctation.
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