Slide show: Common types of congenital heart defects
Image of heart with coarctation of the aorta
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This is a narrowing (coarctation) in a portion of the heart's main artery (aorta). Coarctation forces the heart to pump harder to get blood through the aorta and on to the rest of the body.

Coarctation of the aorta can cause several life-threatening complications, including severe high blood pressure, a bulge in the aorta that can burst (aortic aneurysm), infection of the heart (endocarditis), brain hemorrhage, stroke, heart failure and premature coronary artery disease. Repair is typically recommended before age 10, either by surgically removing the affected portion or widening it through a surgical procedure called balloon angioplasty and placement of a mesh tube that can hold the aorta open (stent).

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