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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.
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.
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.
In mild cases, there may be no symptoms.
If the narrowing is more severe, symptoms may include:
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.
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.
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Current as of: September 7, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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