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What Is Coarctation of the Aorta?

Coarctation (pronounced koh-ark-TAY-shun) of the aorta is when the aorta has a very narrow area or segment like in 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.

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.

Coarctation of the Aorta at Seattle Children’s

Our heart team has treated many children with coarctation of the aorta. We have extensive experience with the treatment these patients may require, including cardiac catheterizationsurgery and hybrid procedures. We also have a pediatric cardiac anesthesia team and a cardiac intensive care unit ready to care for children who undergo 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 cardiologist, you are connected with neonatologists, pulmonologists (lung doctors), 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.

Since 1907, Children's has been treating children only. Our team members are trained in their fields and also 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. Our expertise in pediatrics truly makes a difference for our patients and families.

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

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models
  • Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children
  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)