Matthew 25:40

"And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ "

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coarctation of The Aorta

What It Is
The aorta is the body's main artery. It distributes oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body except the lungs. The first branches of the aorta go to the upper body (arms and head). After that, blood goes to the lower body (abdomen and legs). Coarctation of the aorta is a narrowing of the aorta between the upper-body artery branches and the branches to the lower body. This blockage can increase blood pressure in your arms and head, reduce pressure in your legs and seriously strain your heart. Aortic valve abnormalities often accompany coarctation.
Surgical Treatment
The narrowing can be removed by surgery or sometimes by a nonsurgical balloon dilation in the cardiac catheterization lab. Aortic coarctation may return even after successful surgery or balloon dilation. This isn't uncommon if your repair was done when you were a newborn. (It's uncommon if it was repaired when you were a child.) If you've reached your full adult size and have no blood pressure difference between your arms and legs, it's highly unlikely that your aorta will become obstructed again.
Recurrent coarctation is usually treated with nonsurgical balloon dilation or by implanting a stent using cardiac catheterization.

Ongoing Care
Medical After the coarctation is repaired, you'll need your blood pressure checked every 1-2 years. The reason is that you're at higher risk of developing generalized high blood pressure or problems with your aortic valve. Both of these can be checked for during your routine cardiology visits.

Activity Restrictions Depending on your blood pressure at rest or during exercise, you may be advised to avoid some forms of strenuous exercise. Heavy isometric exercise, such as power weightlifting, may be a particular concern if your pressure is elevated. In general, you don't need to restrict activity if your arm and leg blood pressures are normal. (See the Physical Activity section.) Ask your cardiologist if you should limit any activity.

Endocarditis Prevention
You may need antibiotics before certain dental or surgical procedures if you have an aortic obstruction or aortic valve abnormality. (See the section on Endocarditis.)
Pregnancy Most women with repaired coarctation shouldn't have any difficulties, unless there's residual aortic obstruction or generalized high blood pressure. However, if you have persistent coarctation or any associated problems that might affect you or your baby, check with your physician before considering getting pregnant. (See the section on Pregnancy.)

Problems You May Have
Symptoms Coarctation of the aorta usually doesn't have symptoms. However, if the obstruction becomes severe, you may not tolerate exercise well. You could have a headache or leg pains after exertion. You also might have chest pain or palpitations. Tell your cardiologist promptly about any activity-related symptoms.

Will You Need More Surgery?
The need for surgery or catheterization depends mostly on the level of pressure in your arms and legs when you're resting and, under some circumstances, during exercise. If your arm and leg blood pressures are normal, you probably won't need more intervention.

Information Obtained from The American Heart Association