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Coarctation of the Aorta


Coarctation of the aorta (COA) is 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.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.


  • An arterial line is a special IV that continuously monitors your child's blood pressure.
  • A heart monitor is an EKG that stays on all of the time to record the electrical activity of your child's heart.
  • A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your child's blood.


  • Blood pressure medicine helps control your child's blood pressure.
  • Diuretics help your child's body get rid of extra fluid and protect his heart from more damage. Diuretics may make your child urinate more often.
  • Medicine to keep the ductus arteriosus open may be given to newborns. The ductus arteriosus is an opening between the aorta and the pulmonary artery of your child's heart. Normally, it closes after birth. The ductus arteriosus may be kept open to decrease stress on your child's heart.


  • An echocardiogram (echo) is a type of ultrasound. Sound waves are used to show COA and how blood flows through your child's heart. It can also show how well your child's heart is pumping. Your child may need a transthoracic or transesophageal echocardiogram. Ask your child's healthcare provider about these types of echocardiogram.
  • X-ray, MRI, or CT pictures will show the narrowed aorta. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help the pictures show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any metal in or on his or her body.
  • A cardiac catheterization is a test used to show how well your child's heart is working or to measure pressure. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help his or her heart show up better in pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if he or she has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.


  • A ventilator is a machine that gives your child oxygen and breathes for your child. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your child's mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator.
  • Balloon angioplasty is a procedure to widen the aorta with a balloon.
  • Surgery may be needed to repair the COA. During surgery the narrowed part of the aorta may be removed. Instead, a graft may be placed to move blood around the narrowed area.


COA may cause high blood pressure, an infection in a heart valve, heart attack, or stroke. Without treatment, COA may lead to heart failure.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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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.

Learn more about Coarctation of the Aorta (Inpatient Care)

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