• Aortic Coarctation—Adult

    (Coarctation of the Aorta—Adult)


    The aorta is the main artery carrying oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body. Aortic coarctation is the narrowing of the aorta which slows or blocks the blood flow. It is often associated with other heart and vascular conditions, like abnormal (bicuspid) heart valves or blood vessel outpouching (aneurysms). These conditions carry a risk of additional future problems.
    Heart and Main Vessels
    BP00015 96472 1 aorta.jpg
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    Aortic coarctation is a congenital heart defect, which means it is present at birth. It occurs because of a problem with the development of the aorta while the fetus in the womb.

    Risk Factors

    A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. The following risk factors increase your chances of having aortic coarctation:


    Aortic coarctation may or may not have symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is because of aortic coarctation. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.
    • Cold legs and feet
    • Shortness of breath, especially with exercise
    • Dizziness
    • Leg cramps after exercise
    • Headaches
    • Fatigue
    • Nosebleeds
    • Fainting
    • Chest pain


    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include the following:


    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:


    The narrow section of the aorta can be removed surgically. The two “good” ends can be reconnected.

    Balloon Angioplasty

    A tiny catheter tube is inserted into a blood vessel in the leg and threaded up to the aorta. There, a balloon is inflated to expand the narrow area. A stent may be placed to keep the area open.
    Balloon Angioplasty
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    Since aortic coarctation is a congenital defect, it cannot be prevented.


    American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/

    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/


    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/

    University of Ottawa Heart Institute http://www.ottawaheart.ca/


    Coarctation of aorta. DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed102.epnet.com/Detail.aspx?id=115836 . Updated June 28, 2012. Accessed November 7, 2012.

    Coarctation of the aorta. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/Coarctation-of-the-Aorta-CoA%5FUCM%5F307022%5FArticle.jsp . Updated January 24, 2011. Accessed November 7, 2012.

    Coarctation of the aorta. Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/diseases%5Fconditions/heart/coa.html . Updated August 2010. Accessed November 7, 2012.

    What are congenital heart defects? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/chd/chd%5Fwhat.html . Accessed November 7, 2012.

    Revision Information

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