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Coarctation of the Aorta

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is coarctation of the aorta (COA)?

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.

Coarctation of the Aorta

What causes COA?

There is no known cause of COA. Your child's risk for COA may increase if his or her mother eats or drinks certain foods, or takes certain medicines, during pregnancy. Your child's risk for COA may also increase if he or she has other heart defects.

What are the signs and symptoms of COA?

How is COA diagnosed and treated?

The healthcare provider will examine your child. Your child may need an ultrasound, x-ray, MRI, or CT. These tests 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. Your child may need any of the following to treat COA:

What can I do to care for my child?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my child's doctor?

Care Agreement

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. 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.

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