• Aortic Coarctation—Child

    (Coarctation of the Aorta—Child)


    The aorta is the main artery in the heart. It carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body. Aortic coarctation is the narrowing of the aorta. This slows or blocks blood flow. It is often associated with other heart and vascular conditions. Examples include abnormal heart valves or aneurysms, which can lead to further health problems.
    Anatomy of the Heart
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    Aortic coarctation is a congenital heart defect. This means that it is present at birth. It occurs because of a problem with the way the aorta develops while the fetus is growing in the uterus.

    Risk Factors

    Aortic coarctation is more common in boys. Other factors that increase your child's risk of aortic coarctation include:


    If your child’s condition is severe, symptoms of impaired blood flow will be present at birth. If aortic coarctation is not treated, it can lead to heart failure.
    If this condition is not detected when your child is a baby, there may be other symptoms during childhood, such as:
    • Heart murmur
    • High blood pressure in the arms
    • A weak pulse in the legs
    • Cold legs and feet
    • Shortness of breath, especially with exercise
    • Legs that are underdeveloped, but better developed arms
    • Headaches
    • Lightheadedness
    • Fatigue
    • Chest pain


    You will be asked about your child's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam and blood tests will be done.
    Imaging tests evaluate the heart and surrounding structures. This can be done with:


    Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment depends on your child's age and how severe the condition is.

    Treatment for Newborns

    Your newborn will need treatment right away. Medications can be used to help blood flow to all parts of the body and improve contraction of the heart. One of the most common surgeries involves removing the narrow section of the aorta and reconnecting the 2 healthier ends.

    Treatment for Children

    Your child may need to take other medications to reduce fluid retention. Depending on your child’s condition, the doctor may also recommend surgery. Some of the options include:
    • Resection of the narrowed area in the aorta (the same type of surgery used in infants)
    • Subclavian flap aortoplasty—involves using a patch or part of the artery to make the area larger
    • Balloon angioplasty —involves using a balloon to widen the narrowed area
    It is important to note that there will always be a risk, even into adulthood, of the development of other cardiovascular conditions.


    There are no current guidelines to prevent aortic coarctation.


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

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


    Canadian Cardiovascular Society http://www.ccs.ca

    Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery http://www.canadianvascular.ca


    Coarctation of aorta. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116066/Coarctation-of-aorta. Updated December 8, 2015. Accessed June 6, 2016.

    Coarctation of the aorta. Cincinnati Children’s website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/c/coarctation. Updated December 2013. Accessed June 6, 2016.

    Repair of coarctation of the aorta. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin website. Available at: http://www.chw.org/medical-care/herma-heart-center/for-medical-professionals/pediatric-heart-surgery/coarctation-of-the-aorta. Accessed June 6, 2016.

    Rothman A, Galindo A, Evans W, Collazos J, Restrepo H. Effectiveness and safety of balloon dilation of native aortic coarctation in premature and neonates weighing < or = 2,500 grams. Am J of Cardiology. 2010;105(8):1176-1180.

    Vijayalakshmi K, Griffiths A, Hasan A, O'Sullivan J. Late hazards after repair of coarctation of the aorta. BMJ. 2008;336(7647):772-773.

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