Heart and Blood Conditions

Coarctation of the Aorta Symptoms and Diagnosis

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    • For appointments in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Federal Way, Olympia, Tri-Cities and Wenatchee, call 206-987-2515.
    • For appointments in Tacoma and Silverdale, call 253-272-1812.
    • For appointments in Alaska, call 907-339-1945.
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  • Locations +

    • Seattle Children's Main Campus: 206-987-2515
    • Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center: 425-454-4644
    • Everett: 425-304-6080
    • South Clinic in Federal Way: 253-838-5878
    • Olympia: 360-459-5009
    • South Sound Cardiology Clinics: 253-272-1812
    • Tri-Cities (Richland): 509-946-0976
    • Wenatchee: 509-662-9266
    • Pediatric Cardiology of Alaska: 907-339-1945
    • Seattle Children's doctors provide many cardiac services at regional sites throughout the Pacific Northwest. See our complete list of Heart Center locations.

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    • If you are a provider, fax a New Appointment Request Form (NARF) (PDF) (DOC) to 206-985-3121 or 866-985-3121 (toll-free).
    • No pre-referral work-up is required for most conditions. If you have already done testing such as an EKG, Holter monitor or echocardiogram, please fax this information as well as relevant clinic notes and the NARF to 206-985-3121 or 866-985-3121 (toll-free).
    • Your patient will be seen as quickly as possible by the provider who is the best match for managing the current problem.
    • View our complete Heart Center Referral Information (PDF).

Symptoms of Coarctation of the Aorta

Symptoms of coarctation develop because the upper parts of the body get too much blood and the lower parts do not get enough.

In mild cases, where the aorta is slightly narrowed, babies may not have any symptoms.

If babies do have symptoms, they might have these:

  • Working hard to breathe
  • Having poor appetite or trouble feeding
  • Failure to thrive  
  • Arms and legs that are cool to the touch

Later on, children may develop symptoms related to problems with blood flow and an enlarged heart. They may:

  • Feel dizzy or short of breath
  • Faint
  • Have chest pain
  • Be abnormally tired
  • Get headaches or nosebleeds
  • Have cold legs and feet, or have pain in their legs when they exercise

In more severe cases, where the aorta is very narrow, babies may develop serious problems soon after birth because not enough blood can get through the aorta to the rest of their body.

Coarctation of the Aorta Diagnosis

Even though the narrow spot exists before birth, this condition may not be diagnosed until a routine exam reveals problems with your child's pulse or blood pressure.

Your doctor will examine your child, use a stethoscope to listen to their heart and check their blood pressure in their arms and legs.

The doctor will ask for details about any symptoms your child has, their health history and your family health history.

To get more information about how their heart looks and works, your child will need some tests. Your doctor will probably want to use echocardiography and an electrocardiogram.

Sometimes, the doctor needs more information and will use chest X-rays, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the heart, CT (computed tomography) scan, or angiography. For an older child, the doctor may do exercise testing.

Contact Us

Contact the Heart Center at 206-987-2015 for a cardiac referral, a second opinion or more information.