Aortic Coarctation—Child

(Coarctation of the Aorta—Child)


The aorta is the main artery in the heart. It carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body. Aortic coarctation (AC) is the narrowing of this artery. This slows or blocks blood flow.

Anatomy of the Heart

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


AC is a type of heart defect that a baby has at birth. It happens because of a problem with the way the aorta forms while the baby is growing in the womb.

Risk Factors

Your child’s risk is higher if other family members also have heart defects.


Your child may have:

  • Headaches
  • Problems breathing
  • Lack of energy
  • Swelling
  • Cold legs and feet
  • Poor feeding in infants


You will be asked about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam and blood tests will be done.

Pictures will be taken of the heart and the structures around it. This can be done with:


Talk with the doctor about the best plan for your child. If AC is not treated, it can lead to heart failure. Treatment depends on your child's age and how your child feels.

Treatment for Newborns

Your newborn will need treatment right away. Medicines can be used to help blood flow to all parts of the body and help the heart work better. Surgery may be done to take out the narrow section of the aorta and reconnect the two healthier ends.

Treatment for Children

Your child may need to take other medicines to reduce fluid retention. The doctor may also advise surgery. Here are some methods:

  • Resection to take out the narrow section of the aorta and reconnect the two healthier ends
  • Subclavian flap aortoplasty—uses a patch or part of the artery to make the area larger
  • Balloon angioplasty —uses a balloon to widen the narrowed area

Your child will always be at risk of having other heart problems.


AC can’t be prevented.


American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery


Coarctation of aorta. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated June 16, 2017. Accessed June 28, 2018.
Coarctation of the aorta. Cincinnati Children’s website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated July 2016. Accessed June 28, 2018.
Repair of coarctation of the aorta. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed June 28, 2018.
Rothman A, Galindo A, Evans W, Collazos J, Restrepo H. Effectiveness and safety of balloon dilation of native aortic coarctation in premature and neonates weighing < or = 2,500 grams. Am J of Cardiology. 2010;105(8):1176-1180.
Vijayalakshmi K, Griffiths A, Hasan A, O'Sullivan J. Late hazards after repair of coarctation of the aorta. BMJ. 2008;336(7647):772-773.
Last reviewed May 2018 by Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 6/28/2018

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.