Children's Hospital Colorado

Coarctation of the Aorta

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What is coarctation of the aorta?

The word "coarctation" means narrowing. Coarctation of the aorta in children is an abnormal narrowing of the aorta, which is the major artery that leaves the heart and delivers oxygenated blood to the rest of the body.

When the aorta is too narrow, the heart must work harder to push the blood past the narrow section, like a kink in a garden hose. This makes the heart push harder and increases the blood pressure in the ventricle. Eventually the increased pressure will cause the heart to enlarge.

The pressure in the aorta past the coarctation, or the kink in the hose, is lower, causing all of the organs and lower extremities of the body to get blood at a much lower pressure than normal.

Coarctation of the aorta can range from mild to severe. The severity of the condition depends on how narrow the aorta is. The more narrow the aorta becomes, the less blood that can pass through to the body and the worse the symptoms may be.

Who gets coarctation of the aorta?

Coarctation of the aorta in children is a congenital condition, meaning a child is born with it. The coarctation forms when a child is developing in the womb. Children with Turner syndrome are at higher risk for coarctation of the aorta. Coarctation of the aorta may be associated with other heart defects like ventricular septal defect (VSD) and aortic stenosis.

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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Jonathan Kaufman, MD

Jonathan Kaufman, MD

Critical Care - Pediatric, Pediatrics

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Jesse Davidson, MD

Jesse Davidson, MD

Cardiology - Pediatric, Critical Care - Pediatric, Pediatrics

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Farhouch Berdjis, MD

Farhouch Berdjis, MD

Cardiology - Pediatric

Ryan Leahy, MD

Ryan Leahy, MD

Cardiology - Pediatric, Pediatrics