Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
(603) 742-5252
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+) font size
Physicians
Pay Your Bill Online
Pricing Estimates
Financial Assistance
Health Library
Health Insurance Marketplace Assistance
Interpreter and Communication Services
Surgery Preparation
Medical Records
Accountable Care Organization
Advance Directives
Clinical Research & Trials
Food and Nutrition Services
Back to Health Library   Print This Page Print    Email to a Friend Email

Coarctation of the aorta
Coarctation of the aorta


Definition:

Aortic coarctation is a narrowing of part of the aorta (the major artery leading out of the heart). It is a type of birth defect. Coarctation means narrowing.



Alternative Names:

Aortic coarctation



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

The aorta carries blood from the heart to the vessels that supply the body with blood and nutrients. If part of the aorta is narrowed, it is hard for blood to pass through the artery.

Aortic coarctation is more common in persons with certain genetic disorders, such as Turner syndrome . However, it can also be due to birth defects of the aortic valves.

Aortic coarctation is rare. It is usually diagnosed in children or adults under age 40.



Symptoms:

Symptoms depend on how much blood can flow through the artery. Other heart defects may also play a role. In severe cases, symptoms are seen when the baby is very young. In milder cases, symptoms may not develop until the child has reached adolescence. Symptoms include:

  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pounding headache
  • Chest pain
  • Cold feet or legs
  • Nosebleed
  • Leg cramps with exercise
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) with exercise
  • Decreased ability to exercise
  • Failure to thrive
  • Poor growth

Note: There may be no symptoms.



Signs and tests:

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and take your blood pressure in your arms and legs. Your pulse will be checked. The pulse in the femoral (groin) area is weaker than the carotid (neck) pulse. Sometimes, the femoral pulse may not be felt at all.

The doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to your heart and check for murmurs. People with aortic coarctation have a harsh-sounding murmur that can be heard from the back. Other types of murmurs may also be present.

Coarctation is often discovered during a newborn's first examination or a well-baby exam. Taking the pulses in an infant is an important part of the examination since there may not be any other symptoms or findings until the child is older.

Tests to diagnose this condition may include:

Both Doppler ultrasound and cardiac catheterization can be used to see if there are any differences in blood pressure in different areas of the aorta.



Treatment:

Surgery is usually recommended. The narrowed part of the aorta will be removed or opened. If the problem area is small, the two free ends of the aorta may be re-connected. This is called anastomosis . If a large part of the aorta was removed, a Dacron graft (a synthetic material) or one of the patient's own arteries is used to fill the gap. A tube graft connecting two parts of the aorta may also be used.

Sometimes, balloon angioplasty may be done instead of surgery.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

Coarctation of the aorta can be cured with surgery. Symptoms quickly get better after surgery.

However, there is an increased risk for death due to heart problems among those who have had their aorta repaired. But, without treatment, most people die before age 40. For this reason, doctors usually recommend that the patient has surgery before age 10. Most of the time, surgery to fix the coarctation is done during infancy.



Complications:

Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if you or your child have symptoms of coarctation of the aorta.

Call your health care provider if fainting or chest pain develops; these may be signs of a serious problem.



Prevention:

There is no known way to prevent this disorder, however, awareness of risk may make early diagnosis and treatment possible.



References:

Webb GD, Smallhorn JF, Therrien J, et al. Congenital heart disease. Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2007: chap 61.




Review Date: 12/11/2007
Reviewed By: Mark A Fogel, MD, FACC, FAAP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Radiology, Director of Cardiac MR, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Find What You Need

Events
Careers
Foundation
About Us
Contact
Directions
News
Social Media Agreement
Joint Notice
Web Privacy Policy
WDH Staff Portal

Centers & Services

Cancer Center
Cardiovascular Care
Joint Replacement
Women & Children's
Physician Offices
Other Services

Conditions & Treatments

Health Library

Support Services

Support Groups
Care-Van
Dental Center
Social Work
Food & Nutrition
Integrative Wellness
Spiritual Care
Concerns & Grievances
Homecare and Hospice

For Patients

Pay Your Bill Online
Pricing Estimates
Financial Assistance
Interpreter Services
Surgery Preparation
Medical Record Request
Advance Directives
Clinical Research & Trials

For Healthcare Professionals

Work and Life
Financial Well-Being
Career and Growth

The Wentworth-Douglass Health System includes:

 

Address

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100