Aortic Coarctation -- 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.

  • Causes

    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 womb.

  • Definition

    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
    IMAGE
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  • Diagnosis

    If your child’s condition is not detected at birth, the doctor will ask about his symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. Tests may include:

    • Blood tests
    • Chest x-ray
      —a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the chest
    • MRI
      of the heart—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the heart
    • CT scan
      of the heart—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the heart
    • Echocardiogram
      —a test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the size, shape, and motion of the heart
    • Cardiac catheterization
      (rarely needed)—a tube-like instrument inserted into the heart through a vein or artery (usually in the arm or leg) to detect problems with the heart and its blood supply

  • Prevention

    Since this condition is present at birth, there is no way to prevent it.

  • Risk Factors

    Risk factors include:

    • Gender: male
    • Turner syndrome
      (genetic disorder)
    • Other heart defects

  • Symptoms


    If your child’s condition is severe, he will have symptoms of impaired blood flow 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, he may have these 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
    • Dizziness
    • Fatigue
    • Chest pain

    These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. If your child has any of these, talk to the doctor.

  • Treatment

    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.