Heart and Blood Conditions

Coarctation of the Aorta

What is coarctation of the aorta?

The aorta is the main blood vessel that comes from the heart and supplies blood to the entire body. Coarctation (pronounced koh-ark-TAY-shun) of the aorta is a condition where the aorta has a very narrow area making it shaped like an hourglass.

Blood pressure increases above the narrow spot, and the left ventricle has to pump harder because the pressure is high. The heart may enlarge from this extra work, and its function may suffer if not treated.

Coarctation of the Aorta at Seattle Children’s

Our heart team has treated many children with coarctation of the aorta. We have years of experience with the treatment these patients may need, including cardiac catheterization, surgery and hybrid procedures. We also have a pediatric cardiac anesthesia team and a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit ready to care for children who have catheterization or heart surgery.

When you come to Children’s, a team of people will take care of your child. Along with your child’s heart doctor (cardiologist), you are connected with newborn specialists (neonatologists), lung doctors (pulmonologists), nurses, child life specialists, social workers and others, if their expertise is needed. We work together to meet all of your child’s health needs and help your family through this experience.

Seattle Children’s has been treating children since 1907. Our team members are trained in their fields and in meeting the unique needs of children. For example, the doctors who give your child anesthesia are board certified in pediatric anesthesiology. This means they have extra years of training in how to take care of kids. Our child life specialists know how to help children understand their illnesses and treatments in ways that make sense for their age.

The Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program shared by Children’s and the University of Washington can help with care throughout your child’s life.

Coarctation of the Aorta in Children

This rare condition develops before birth. The causes aren’t clear.

In mild cases, children may show no signs or symptoms at first. So their condition may not be diagnosed until later in life.

Some children born with coarctation of the aorta have other heart defects too, such as aortic stenosis, ventricular septal defect, patent ductus arteriosus or mitral valve abnormalities.

Coarctation is about twice as common in boys as it is in girls. It’s common in girls who have Turner syndrome.

Contact Us

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