Doctors aren't certain what causes aortic coarctation. For unknown reasons, mild to severe narrowing develops in part of the aorta. Although aortic coarctation can occur anywhere along the aorta, the coarctation is most often located near a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus. The condition generally begins before birth.

Rarely, coarctation of the aorta may develop later in life. Traumatic injury may lead to coarctation of the aorta. Rarely, severe hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) or a condition causing inflamed arteries (Takayasu's arteritis) may narrow your aorta, leading to aortic coarctation.

Coarctation of the aorta usually occurs beyond the blood vessels that branch off to your upper body and before the blood vessels that lead to your lower body. This often means you'll have high blood pressure in your arms, but low blood pressure in your legs and ankles.

Apr. 20, 2012