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Coarctation of the aorta is a type of congenital heart disease. Congenital heart disease refers to heart problems a baby is born with. These heart problems are usually diagnosed at or before birth.
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 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.
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 identify 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 ECG or EKG (electrocardiogram), chest X-ray, and checking the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Newborns may have symptoms such as:
Your doctor will help you understand your baby's condition, your treatment choices, and what to expect from each choice.
Your baby may get medicine that helps keep oxygen-rich blood flowing to the body. The medicine may be given through a blood vessel in the belly button. This treatment is temporary. Surgery is needed to repair the aorta.
Surgery is done to remove the narrowed part of the aorta and allow blood to flow more normally.
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.
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Current as of: September 7, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
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