Introduction: The biomechanical failure properties and histological composition of the human nonaneurysmal aorta were studied. Methods: Twenty-six human aortas were harvested from fresh cadavers at autopsy. A total of 153 circumferentially oriented strips were obtained from the aortas for biomechanical and histological studies. Results: The failure load (6.18 ± 2.03 vs. 4.85 ± 2.04 N; p = 0.001), failure tension (19.88 ± 9.05 vs. 14.53 ± 7 N/cm; p = 0.001), failure strain (0.66 ± 0.31 vs. 0.49 ± 0.25; p = 0.003) and amount of elastic fibers (19.39 ± 15.57 vs. 14.06 ± 9.5%; p = 0.011) were all significantly higher for the thoracic than the abdominal aorta. There was a significant negative correlation between age and failure load (R = -0.35; p < 0.0001), failure stress (R = -0.63; p < 0.0001), failure tension (R = -0.52; p < 0.0001) and failure strain (R = -0.8; p < 0.0001). Male aortas had a higher failure load and failure tension than female aortas. Conclusion: The thoracic aorta has a higher strength and elasticity than the abdominal aorta. The elderly have weaker and stiffer aortas than the young. Male aortas are stronger than female aortas.

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