Definition

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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Causes

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.

Risk Factors

The risk of this problem is higher in children who have other family members who have heart defects.

Symptoms

Problems may be:

  • Headaches
  • Problems breathing
  • Lack of energy
  • Swelling
  • Cold legs and feet
  • Poor feeding in infants

Diagnosis

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:

Treatment

AC that is not treated can lead to heart failure. Treatment depends on a child's age and symptoms. Choices are:

Treatment for Newborns

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.

Treatment for Children

Children may be given medicine to reduce fluid buildup. The doctor may also advise surgery. Choices are:

  • Resection to take out the narrow section of the aorta and reconnect the two healthier ends
  • Subclavian flap aortoplasty to make the area larger using a patch or part of the artery
  • Balloon angioplasty to widen the narrowed area using a balloon

Prevention

There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.

RESOURCES:

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

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

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

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

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

REFERENCES:

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: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/c/coarctation. 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: 11/2/2020