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Aortic Coarctation—Adult

(Coarctation of the Aorta—Adult)
  • 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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  • 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.
  • Risk Factors

    Men are at increased risk. Other factors that increase your chances of having aortic coarctation include:
  • 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
  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked 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:
  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
    The narrow section of the aorta can be removed surgically. The 2 healthy ends can be reconnected.
    Balloon Angioplasty
    A tiny catheter tube is inserted into a blood vessel in the leg and threaded up to the aorta. There, a balloon is inflated to expand the narrow area. A stent may be placed to keep the area open.
    Balloon Angioplasty
    Nucleus Image
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  • Prevention

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

    American Heart Association

    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

    University of Ottawa Heart Institute


    Coarctation of aorta. DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 8, 2015. Accessed March 1, 2016.

    Coarctation of the aorta. American Heart Association website. Available at: Updated November 19, 2015. Accessed March 1, 2016.

    Coarctation of the aorta. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: Updated May 2013. Accessed March 1, 2016.

    What are congenital heart defects? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed March 1, 2016.

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