Aortic coarctation (AC) is a narrowing of the aorta. This is the main artery in the heart. It carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body. AC slows or blocks blood flow.
Anatomy of the Heart
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AC is a type of heart defect that a baby has at birth. It happens because of a problem with the way the aorta forms while the baby is growing in the womb.
The risk of this problem is higher in children who have other family members who have heart defects.
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Blood tests will be done.
Pictures will be taken of the heart and the structures around it. This can be done with:
AC that is not treated can lead to heart failure. Treatment depends on a child's age and symptoms. Choices are:
Treatment is needed right away. Medicines may be used to help blood flow to all parts of the body and to help the heart work better. Surgery may be done to take out the narrow section of the aorta and reconnect the two healthier ends.
Children may be given medicine to reduce fluid buildup. The doctor may also advise surgery. Choices are:
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery
Baumgartner H, Bonhoeffer P, et al; Task Force on the Management of Grown-up Congenital Heart Disease of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), Association for European Paediatric Cardiology (AEPC), ESC Committee for Practice Guidelines (CPG). ESC Guidelines for the management of grown-up congenital heart disease (new version 2010). Eur Heart J. 2010 Dec;31(23):2915-2957.
Coarctation of aorta. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/coarctation-of-aorta. Accessed November 2, 2020.
Coarctation of the aorta. Cincinnati Children’s website. Available at:
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Accessed November 2, 2020.
Repair of coarctation of the aorta. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin website. Available at: https://childrenswi.org/medical-care/herma-heart/for-medical-professionals/pediatric-heart-surgery/coarctation-of-the-aorta. Accessed November 2, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 5/5/2021