COARCTATION OF THE AORTA
The "coarctation" is a narrowing of the aorta, typically found just after the vessels are given off to the left arm. This is a cause of high blood pressure, as the kidneys do not "see" as high of a blood pressure as they would like. This leads them to release substances to raise the pressure, but it only rises substantially in the part of the circulation before the blockage. In this fashion, the heart and brain are still subjected to the very high pressures induced by the kidneys desire for more blood.
This can cause no symptoms, and be discovered as part of the evaluation for high blood pressure when the person is in their teens, twenties, or beyond. The key finding is elevated blood pressure in the arms, with low blood pressure in the legs. Pulses in the leg may be decreased in intensity, or delayed compared with their occurrence in the arm.
Coarctations generally require repair. Dilating the segment with balloons is a possibility, particularly in the young. Surgical removal of the narrowed segment may need to be accomplished. If allowed to persist, the high blood pressure which is induced may become "permanent" even after removal of the segment due to changes in some organs which are irreversible.
Other abnormalities may co-exist, particularly abnormalities of the aortic valve. It is quite common, accounting for about 15-20% of cases of congenital heart disease, and is more common in men than in women.
ęCOPY;1997 HeartPoint Updated November 1997
For more about Congenital Disease,
also see these related subjects on HeartPoint:
| Congenital Heart Disease | Atrial Septal Defect | Coarctation of the Aorta | Ebstein's Anomaly | Patent Ductus | Tetralogy of Fallot |
| Transposition of the Great Vessels | Truncus Arteriosus | Ventricular Septal Defect |
| Commentary |
Food You Will Love | HeartPoint
Gallery | In The News | Health Tips | What's New
| Information Center | Home |
This site presents material for your information, education and entertainment. We can assume no liability for inaccuracies, errors, or omissions. Above all, material on this site should not take the place of the care you receive from a personal physician. It is simply designed to help in the understanding of the heart and heart disease, and not as a diagnostic or therapeutic aid. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Please feel free to browse the site and download material for personal and non-commercial use. You may not however distribute, modify, transmit or reuse any of these materials for public or commercial use. You should assume that all contents of the site are copyrighted. ęCOPY;1997 HeartPoint