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Aortic Coarctation—Adult

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Aortic Coarctation—Adult

(Coarctation of the Aorta—Adult)


Aortic coarctation is when the aorta is narrow. The aorta is the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body. When the aorta is narrow, it can slow or block blood flow. This can put a strain on the heart or blood vessels and lead to other problems. This often happens with other heart issues. It may be mild or severe.

Heart and Main Vessels.

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Aortic coarctation is a heart issue that a baby is born with. The aorta did not develop as it should have during pregnancy.

Risk Factors

Aortic coarctation is more common in males. Other things that raise the risk are:


Aortic coarctation may or may not have symptoms. If there are symptoms, a person may have:

  • Cold legs and feet
  • Problems breathing, especially while working out
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Leg cramps after exercise
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chest pain


This condition is often diagnosed after the baby is born. If symptoms of aortic coarctation are mild, it may not be found until later.

The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will check the heart, pulse, and blood pressure. Infants and children may need to see a heart doctor.

Tests may include:


The goal of treatment is to help blood flow better through the aorta. How this is done depends on how bad the aortic coarcation is. Newborn babies with symptoms may need supportive care such as breathing help. Some may need surgery or a procedure right away.

Treatments may include:

  • Medicines to help the heart and blood vessels work better
  • Surgery to remove the narrow section—the wider parts of the aorta and then joined together
  • Balloon angioplasty—a balloon and stents are placed in the aorta to open it

A heart doctor will need to check the child regularly.

Balloon Angioplasty.

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Aortic coarctation cannot be prevented.





  • Coarctation of aorta. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/coarctation-of-aorta.
  • Coarctation of the aorta. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/coa.html.
  • Coarctation of the aorta (CoA). American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/congenital-heart-defects/about-congenital-heart-defects/coarctation-of-the-aorta-coa#.WpgysGrwZQI.
  • Kim, Y.Y., Andrade, L., et al. Aortic Coarctation. Cardiol Clin, 2020; 38 (3): 337-351.
  • What are congenital heart defects? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/congenital-heart-defects.


  • Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated:

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.