Skip to Content

Coarctation Of The Aorta


Coarctation of the aorta (COA)

Tis a birth defect that causes a narrowing in your child's aorta. The aorta is the large blood vessel that moves blood from your child's heart to the rest of his or her body. COA makes the heart work harder than usual to pump blood and oxygen to your child's body. Over time, this may weaken the heart muscle and cause heart failure.

Common signs and symptoms of COA:

  • Heavy sweating or irritability in infants
  • Headaches, nose bleeds, and leg cramps in older children
  • Chest pain
  • Cold or pale legs and feet
  • Fast breathing or shortness of breath that may get worse with exercise
  • Feeling tired, dizzy, or faint
  • Problems eating, poor weight gain, and slow growth

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child has severe chest pain.
  • Your child has trouble breathing or sudden shortness of breath.
  • Your child coughs up blood.
  • Your child loses consciousness or stops breathing.
  • Your child has any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Part of his or her face droops or is numb
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child is too dizzy to stand.
  • Your child's heart is beating faster than usual.
  • Your child has swelling in his or her legs or ankles.
  • Your child has severe abdominal pain or his abdomen is larger than usual.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has chills, a cough, or feels weak and achy.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Treatment of COA

may include medicine to control or lower your child's blood pressure. Your child may need a balloon angioplasty or surgery to repair the COA. Ask your child's healthcare provider for more information on these procedures.

Care for your child:

  • Do not smoke near your child. Do not let your older child smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung and heart damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you or your older child currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you or your older child use these products.
  • Feed your child heart-healthy foods. Feed your child more fresh fruits and vegetables. Limit foods high in sodium, such as canned and processed foods. Replace butter and margarine with heart-healthy oils such as olive oil and canola oil. Other heart-healthy foods include walnuts, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, and lean meats. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are also heart healthy.
  • Ask your child's healthcare provider if you need to limit his or her activity. Your child may need to avoid strenuous activities and sports to decrease his or her symptoms. Strenuous activities include running, lifting, and swimming.
  • Get your child vaccinated. Vaccines help decrease your child's risk for infections. Infections can make your child's condition worse. Ask your child's healthcare provider for a vaccine schedule.

Follow up with your child's cardiologist as directed:

Your child will need to return for more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.