Coarctation of the Aorta (COA)

Also known as: COA

What is Coarctation of the Aorta (COA)?

Coarctation of the aorta is a heart condition that is present at birth involving the narrowing of the aorta. This defect may occur on its own or in association with more complex heart defects and patients with chromosomal abnormalities.


What are the signs/symptoms?

  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Lethargy

What causes Coarctation of the aorta?

COA may be caused by an improper development of the aorta during fetal growth; however most of the time this heart defect occurs by chance, with no clear reason for their development.

How is Coarctation of the aorta diagnosed?

COA may be discovered during your child’s physical exam, while a pediatrician is obtaining the child’s vital signs. The first suspicion of a coarctation is when the doctor notes a lower blood pressure in the legs. Other test that assist with diagnosing include:
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram (ECHO): A fetal echo is an ultrasound of your baby’s heart. A fetal echo checks your baby’s heart structure, rhythm, and function as well as the growth and development of your baby.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): An electrocardiogram checks for problems with the electrical activity of the heart
  • Cardiac catheterization: A minimally invasive procedure that provides comprehensive information about the structures inside the heart.

Treatment for Coarctation of the Aorta

If your baby is diagnosed with COA, the treatment is surgical repair of the narrowed vessel. The cardiovascular surgeon will cut out the narrowed section and sew the two healthy ends of the aorta back together. This reconstructs the arch and institutes normal blood flow through the aorta.

This page was last updated on: 3/23/2018 2:05:08 PM


Ronald Kanter, MD of Nicklaus Children's Hospital is the Director of Electrophysiology with The Heart Program.

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