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Aortic Coarctation—Child

(Coarctation of the Aorta—Child)


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.

Risk Factors

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


Problems may be:

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


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 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


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: Accessed November 2, 2020.

Coarctation of the aorta. Cincinnati Children’s website. Available at: Accessed November 2, 2020.

Repair of coarctation of the aorta. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin website. Available at: Accessed November 2, 2020.

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD