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Coarctation of the Aorta Specialist in Wichita, KS

Coarctation of the Aorta (COA) is a congenital heart defect that means the aorta is narrower than it should be. This is a congenital heart defect that is present at birth. When the aorta narrows, less oxygen-rich blood is sent to the body. The cause of COA is unknown, but some congenital heart defects have a genetic link and may happen more often in certain families. COA may be diagnosed in infants, school-age, or teens.

Some common symptoms of COA are:

The symptoms correlate with the amount of narrowing.

  • Irritability
  • Pale skin
  • Sweating
  • Heavy or fast breathing
  • Poor feeding or eating
  • Poor weight gain
  • Cold feet or legs 
  • Weak pulses in feet, or no pulses in feet 
  • Blood pressure in the arms is much higher than blood pressure in the legs
  • Pain in lower legs while walking


  • Chest x-ray 
    • May show an enlarged heart
  • Electrocardiogram 
    • May show abnormal arrhythmias or heart muscle damage 
  • Echocardiogram
    • The most common way to diagnose COA

Living with coarctation of the aorta:

Any child found to have COA will have the defect fixed. COA is treated by fixing the narrowing of the vessel. Commonly, COA is repair through Cardiac Catherization. During this procedure, the balloon tip of the catheter will be inflated to stretch the narrowed area. A stent may be placed to keep the area open. As the child grows, the aorta may begin to narrow again, and another procedure may need to be done. COA can also be repaired through open-heart surgery. 

After the procedure, controlling blood pressure is very important. The child may be placed on medication to help regulate their blood pressure. 

The child will require regular follow-ups with a cardiologist throughout their life. 

After repair, most children live healthy lives.