The aorta is the main artery in the heart. It carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body. Aortic coarctation (AC) is the narrowing of this artery. This slows or blocks blood flow.

Anatomy of the Heart
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AC is a type of heart defect that a baby has at birth. It happens because of a problem with the way the aorta forms while the baby is growing in the womb.

Risk Factors

Your child’s risk is higher if other family members also have heart defects.


Your child may have:

  • Headaches
  • Problems breathing
  • Lack of energy
  • Swelling
  • Cold legs and feet
  • Poor feeding in infants


You will be asked about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam and blood tests will be done.

Pictures will be taken of the heart and the structures around it. This can be done with:


Talk with the doctor about the best plan for your child. If AC is not treated, it can lead to heart failure . Treatment depends on your child's age and how your child feels.

Treatment for Newborns

Your newborn will need treatment right away. Medicines can be used to help blood flow to all parts of the body and help the heart work better. Surgery may be done to take out the narrow section of the aorta and reconnect the two healthier ends.

Treatment for Children

Your child may need to take other medicines to reduce fluid retention. The doctor may also advise surgery. Here are some methods:

  • Resection to take out the narrow section of the aorta and reconnect the two healthier ends
  • Subclavian flap aortoplasty—uses a patch or part of the artery to make the area larger
  • Balloon angioplasty —uses a balloon to widen the narrowed area

Your child will always be at risk of having other heart problems.


AC can’t be prevented.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 05/2018 -
  • Update Date: 06/28/2018 -