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Difference Between Aorta and Pulmonary Artery

Introduction to Human Heart

The human heart is a muscular organ which consists of four chambers and is responsible for the pumping of blood across the whole body. The heart possesses a network of blood vessels like arteries, veins and capillaries. Two of the five blood vessels that enter or leave the heart directly are the aorta and the pulmonary artery. Aorta is the largest artery, which carries oxygenated blood from the left ventricle of the heart to other parts of the body. In contrast, the pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs with the aim of purification.


Walls of the Heart

The walls of the human heart have an important function, which is to pump blood by relaxing and contracting these walls.


The wall dividing the left and right parts of the heart is known as the septum.


The walls of the heart have three layers, namely:


Endocardium: It is the inner layer of the heart wall.


Myocardium: The middle layer of the heart wall. It is muscular.


Epicardium: The outermost protective layer of the heart wall.


Fun Fact: The endocardium is made up of one layer of the pericardium. The pericardium is the protective sac that covers the entire human heart, filled with the protective fluid for lubrication.


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Aorta

The biggest artery present in the human body is the aorta, which carries oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body. High blood pressure is present within the aorta due to the transportation of oxygenated blood across the body, and thus the aorta is composed of thick walls. 


The aorta is elastic and located at the top of the heart. An aortic valve is present at the entrance of the aorta from the left ventricle. The aorta is responsible for the systemic circulation of blood throughout the body.


The aorta is further composed of several arteries like the ascending and descending aorta, the aortic arch, the thoracic and the abdominal aorta. Baroreceptors and chemoreceptors are present at the aortic arch to monitor the blood pressure.


Some of the common diseases related to the aortic artery are aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm, atherosclerosis, aortic inflammation and connective tissue disorders.


Pulmonary Artery

The function of the pulmonary artery is to carry deoxygenated blood from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs for purification. A pulmonary valve is present at the beginning of the pulmonary artery.


The pulmonary artery is located just below the aorta. It further divides into the right pulmonary artery and the left pulmonary artery, which also divide into smaller arteries, arterioles and capillaries. All of these, together with the pulmonary trunk and pulmonary aorta, form the pulmonary circulation.


Some of the frequent diseases related to the pulmonary artery include pulmonary embolisms and pulmonary hypertension.


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Aorta and pulmonary are two arteries present in the heart but have some critical differences among them. The following are some of the differences between the aorta and pulmonary artery:


Difference Between Aorta and Pulmonary Artery

Point of Difference

Aorta

Pulmonary Artery

Function

Aorta is a large artery which carries oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body.

The primary function of the pulmonary artery is to carry deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs for purification.

Blood pressure

Blood pressure is high compared to that of the pulmonary artery.

Blood pressure is low in comparison to that of the aorta.

Location

The aorta is situated at the upper part of the heart.

The pulmonary artery is present below the aorta.

Circulation

The blood circulation in the aorta is termed as systemic circulation.

The blood circulation through the pulmonary artery is known as pulmonary circulation.

Emergence

The entrance of the aorta is at the left ventricle of the heart. 

The entrance of the pulmonary artery is at the right ventricle of the heart.

Branches

The aorta branches into the ascending aorta, descending aorta, aortic arch, thoracic aorta and the abdominal aorta.

The pulmonary branches into the left pulmonary artery and the right pulmonary artery.


Both the aorta and the pulmonary artery are important arteries of the body and are essential for the circulation of blood throughout the body. The primary difference between the aorta and pulmonary artery is that aorta carries oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body while the pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs to purify it. 


The aorta originates from the left ventricle of the heart and branches into five other arteries. In contrast, the pulmonary artery arises from the right ventricle and branches into the left and right pulmonary arteries. The aorta has a thick wall around it as the blood pressure is high inside while the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery is lower. The aorta and pulmonary artery are located close to each other. The aorta is located at the top of the heart, while the pulmonary artery is located beneath it.


Functions of the Human Heart

There are four main functions of the human heart, and they are as follows:

  1. The primary function of the human heart is to pump the oxygenated blood to all the parts of the body. 

  2. The human heart is also involved in pumping important nutrients and other substances to various parts of the human body.

  3. Human hearts receive deoxygenated blood from all the parts of the body and are responsible for pumping the impure blood to the lungs for purification.

  4. The human heart maintains blood pressure.

The human heart works with the other organs for the following:


Nervous System: The human heart coordinates with the nervous system to control the heart rate. The nervous system sends the signal to heat to beat accordingly, faster during any physical activity and slower during the rest.


Endocrine System: The hormones by the endocrine system tell the heart to contract and relax during the passage of blood, which in turn affects the blood pressure. The thyroid gland is also involved in signalling the heart to beat slower and faster.


Human Heart’s Electrical Conduction System

Just like the electrical wiring in the building, the human heart also comprises the electrical conduction system that helps in the rhythm and pace of the heart.


The Sinoatrial Node(SV):  The sinoatrial node sends the signals that make the human heartbeat.


Atrioventricular Node (AV): This node carries the electrical signals from the upper chambers of the heart to its lower chambers.


The heart also consists of a bundle of electrical bundles and fibres. This electrical bundle includes the following:


Left Bundle Branch: This bundle sends the electric impulses to the left ventricle of the heart.


Right Bundle Branch: This bundle sends the electric impulses to the right ventricle of the human heart.


Purkinje Fibres: These fibres help in making the ventricles of the heart contract and pump the blood out.


Bundle of his: This particular bundle sends out the impulses from the AV node to the Purkinje fibres.


Commonly Known Heart Disorders

Heart conditions are a common kind of disease affecting the majority of people today. Here are the following:


Cardiomyopathy:  The condition in which there is an unusual thickening and stiffening of the heart muscle is defined as cardiomyopathy.


Coronary Artery Disease: The condition in which the building up of plaque results in narrow coronary arteries is known as coronary artery disease.


Heart Attack: This condition is a common disease in India today. In this condition, there is a sudden blockage in the coronary artery that cuts off the oxygen supply to the heart muscle.


Pericarditis: The condition in which there is an inflammation in the heart lining is called pericarditis.


Arrhythmia: The condition in which the heartbeat is too fast or too low or has irregular beating is called arrhythmia.


Atrial Fibrillation: The condition in which there is the signalling of irregular electric impulses in the atrium is known as atrial fibrillation.


Did You Know?

Usually, arteries carry oxygenated blood to various parts of the body. However, the pulmonary artery is the only artery which carries deoxygenated blood. This is the major difference between arteries and pulmonary arteries.

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Frequently asked questions

1. Are there any similarities between the aorta and the pulmonary artery?

Despite the many differences, the aorta and the pulmonary artery share a lot of similarities among them as well. Some of their similarities include:

  • Both of them are vital arteries in the human body.

  • Both of them form an essential part of the blood circulation system in the human body.

  • Both the aorta and the pulmonary artery carry blood away from the heart.

  • Both of them originate from the ventricles of the heart.

  • Both the arteries branch into other smaller arteries.

  • Malfunctioning of either of these arteries causes serious diseases to humans. Aortic and pulmonary diseases are common in many individuals.

2. Differentiate between the pulmonary artery and pulmonary vein.

The following are the differences between the pulmonary artery and pulmonary vein:

 

Point of Difference

Pulmonary Artery

Pulmonary Vein

Function

It carries deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs for purification.

It carries oxygenated blood to the left atrium from the lungs.

Blood nature

It carries deoxygenated blood consisting of more metabolic wastes and high carbon dioxide concentrations.

They carry oxygenated blood with more oxygen and less metabolic wastes.

Anatomy

It is connected to the right ventricle of the human heart.

It is connected to the left atrium of the human heart.

Number

The pulmonary artery branches into two parts- the left and the right pulmonary arteries.

There are four pulmonary veins present in the body, two veins in each lung.

3. Why do the ventricles of the heart have thicker walls?

According to the anatomy of a human heart, The lower chambers i.e., the right and left ventricles of a human heart have thicker walls as compared to the upper chambers (right and left atriums). This is because the ventricles are completely responsible for pumping both oxygenated and deoxygenated blood. Thus, the thick walls are supportive.

4. What is pericardium?

A thin sac-like membrane covers the human heart, It is called the pericardium. The main function of the pericardium is to protect the heart and keep it in its place. It also prevents friction as the heart beats. It helps the heart to keep itself in shape and prevents overflowing of the blood.


The pericardium is made up of two layers and those are, fibrous pericardium and serous pericardium.