Aortic Coarctation -- 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 heart valves or blood vessel outpouching. These conditions carry a risk of additional future problems.

  • Causes

    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.

  • Definition

    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 heart valves or blood vessel outpouching. These conditions carry a risk of additional future problems.

    Heart and Main Vessels
    BP00015 96472 1 aorta.jpg
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Images may be taken of your internal structures. This can be done with:

    • Chest x-ray
    • Magnetic resonance imaging

    • Computerized tomography
      (CT) scan
    • Echocardiogram
    • Cardiac catheterization

  • Prevention

    Since aortic coarctation is a congenital defect, it cannot be prevented.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your chances of having aortic coarctation include:

    • Gender: male
    • Turner’s syndrome
    • Family history of aortic coarctation

  • Symptoms

    Aortic coarctation may or may not have symptoms. Symptoms may include:

    • Cold legs and feet
    • Shortness of breath, especially with exercise
    • Lightheadedness
    • Leg cramps after exercise
    • Headaches
    • Fatigue
    • Nosebleeds
    • Fainting
    • Chest pain

  • Treatment

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