Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Learning About Mild Coarctation of the Aorta in Newborns

Main Content

Learning About Mild Coarctation of the Aorta in Newborns

Heart with narrowed aorta

What is coarctation of the aorta?

Coarctation of the aorta is a type of congenital heart disease. Congenital heart disease refers to heart problems a baby is born with.

The aorta is the large blood vessel that sends oxygen-rich blood (red blood) from the heart out to the body. Coarctation (say "ko-ark-TAY-shun") means that a section of this blood vessel is narrowed or pinched. The heart has to work extra hard to pump the blood through it.

Coarctation of the aorta makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the body. Over time, this can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, or other problems.

It can be scary to learn that there is something wrong with your baby's heart. The hospital staff understands this. They will explain what happens and will answer your questions.

How is coarctation of the aorta diagnosed?

Your doctor may hear abnormal heart sounds, such as a heart murmur, when examining your newborn.

Your doctor will order tests to find the cause of abnormal sounds or of symptoms. The most common test used to find this problem is called an echocardiogram, or "echo" for short. It uses sound waves to make an image of your baby's heart.

Your baby may have other tests, such as an EKG (electrocardiogram) or a chest X-ray. Another test may look at the amount of oxygen in the blood.

What are the symptoms?

In mild cases, there may be no symptoms.

If the narrowing is more severe, symptoms may include:

  • Fast breathing.
  • Sweating while feeding.
  • Not eating well.
  • Being fussy a lot of the time.

How is it treated?

Mild cases may not cause problems and may not need treatment right away.

When your child is older, or if the narrowing starts to cause problems, a procedure or surgery may be done to repair the aorta.

What can you expect?

Your doctor will make sure that you have all the information you need to take care of your baby at home. Regular checkups will help your doctor watch your baby for symptoms over time.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter M764 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About Mild Coarctation of the Aorta in Newborns".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.