Coarctation of the aorta is when there is a narrowing of the main blood vessel in the body. This main blood vessel delivers blood around the body. This condition is usually present at birth. This narrowing of the aorta makes the heart pump work harder as it has to force blood through the narrowed part of your aorta.
Coarctation can occur anywhere along the aorta. However, it is most often seen near a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus. If the Coarctation occurs above the blood vessels that branch off to your upper body and before the blood vessels that lead to your lower body, it can lead to higher blood pressure in your arms but lower blood pressure in your legs and ankles.
Coarctation of the aorta can lead to the left lower heart chamber (left ventricle) to work harder. The blood is being pumped from the heart through the narrowed aorta. Therefore the blood pressure increases in the left ventricle causing the left ventricle to thicken (hypertrophy).
The symptoms of Aortic Coarctation can range from mild to severe with some not even being detected until adulthood, depending on how narrowed the aorta is. However, if the aorta is severely narrowed, signs and symptoms will show early in life. Many patients with Coarctation of the aorta may also have signs or symptoms of other heart defects.
Aortic Coarctation often occurs along with other congenital heart defects, although the causes of multiple heart defects are still unknown.
The Cardiologist can now fix coarctation of the Aorta in the Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory. It is similar to angioplasty or stenting for coronary artery disease. A catheter with a balloon is passed into the Aorta through the blood vessel (femoral artery) in the groin. When the catheter reaches the coarctation or narrowing, the balloon is inflated to expand the Aorta. A small metal mesh tube called a stent is placed at the site of the coarctation to keep the Aorta open. The advantage of having a stent is that the recovery time is short about two to three days before you can return to regular activity.
Once the procedure Coarctation can often be treated using a balloon or an expandable metal mesh tube, called a stent. This procedure is carried out under a general anaesthetic in the cardiac catheterisation laboratory, where x-rays can be used to guide the procedure.
The stent/balloon is passed through a long tube (catheter) from the femoral artery at the top of the leg up to the heart. The stent/balloon is positioned across the narrowing and expanded to widen it.
You will need to take things easy over the next couple of days. There will be a small dressing over the site, and it is important to keep it clean and dry. The nurse on the ward will put a new dressing over the area on the day of discharge. There may be a small bruise, and the site may even be tender over the next couple of days. An ice pack may be useful, and your doctor may prescribe a mild pain killer.
You will need to take aspirin for six months after the procedure. Aspirin will help to prevent small blood clots from forming around the device. You will be given a prescription for aspirin before you are discharged home from the hospital.
You will need to take antibiotics before and after dental treatments for six months after the procedure. These drugs help prevent a heart infection called infectious endocarditis.
Your will receive an appointment for follow-up about 6 months after the procedure.