The aorta is the body’s major artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the whole body except the lungs. The upper branches of the aorta carry blood to the upper body (arms and head). After that, blood goes to the lower body (abdomen and legs) by the descending aorta.
The narrowed segment called coarctation (COA) is usually located on the descending aorta immediately after the subclavian artery (SA). This narrowing can increase blood pressure in your arms and head and reduce blood pressure in your legs, thus seriously straining your heart. Aortic valve (AV) abnormalities often accompany coarctation.
The coarctation narrowing can be repaired by surgery or non-surgical balloon dilation. Aortic coarctation may reoccur even after a successful surgical repair or balloon dilatation. Recurrent coarctation can be treated either surgically or non-surgically using balloon dilation or stenting.
Even after coarctation repair, your blood pressure may still be high or you may be at risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) in later years. Regular blood pressure monitoring in both arms and legs are performed during your routine cardiology visits. Periodical investigations are also performed to check for re-coarctation.
In most cases, you are not required to limit your activity if your arm and leg blood pressures are normal. However if your blood pressure is still high, you may need to avoid certain strenuous exercise. Please ask your cardiologist if you should limit any activity.
Prevention of Endocarditis
You are at risk of developing infection in the inner layer of the aorta (endarteritis) or infection of the heart valves if there are associated valve abnormalities. Thus, antibiotics are required before any dental or surgical interventions.
Women with repaired coarctation rarely encounter any difficulties except if there is residual aortic valve abnormality, hypertension or residual coarctation. Please consult your cardiologist before starting a family.