Coarctation of the aorta often occurs along with other congenital heart defects, although doctors don't know what causes multiple heart defects to form together. You or your child may be more likely to have aortic coarctation if you or your child has certain heart conditions including:

  • Bicuspid aortic valve. The aortic valve separates the lower left chamber (left ventricle) of the heart from the aorta. A bicuspid aortic valve has two leaflets instead of the usual three. Many people with coarctation of the aorta have a bicuspid aortic valve.
  • Patent ductus arteriosus. Before birth, the ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel connecting the left pulmonary artery to the aorta — allowing blood to bypass the lungs. Shortly after birth, the ductus arteriosus usually closes. If it remains open, it's called a patent ductus arteriosus.
  • Holes in the wall between the left and right sides of the heart. You may have a hole in the wall (septum) between the upper chambers of the heart (atrial septal defect) or the lower chambers of the heart (ventricular septal defect) when you're born. This causes oxygen-rich blood from the left side of the heart to mix with oxygen-poor blood in the right side of the heart.
  • Aortic valve stenosis. This is a narrowing of the valve that separates the left ventricle of the heart from the aorta (aortic valve). This means your heart has to pump harder to get adequate blood flow to your body. Over time, this can cause your heart muscle to thicken and lead to heart failure.
  • Aortic valve regurgitation. This occurs when the aortic valve doesn't close tightly, causing blood to leak backward into the left ventricle.
  • Mitral valve stenosis. This is a narrowing of the valve (mitral valve) between the upper left heart chamber (left atrium) and the left ventricle that lets blood flow through the left side of your heart. In this condition, blood may back up into your lungs, causing shortness of breath or lung congestion. Like aortic valve stenosis, this condition can also lead to heart failure.
  • Mitral valve regurgitation. This occurs when the mitral valve doesn't close tightly, causing blood to leak backward into the left atrium.

Coarctation of the aorta is also more common in people who have certain genetic conditions, such as Turner syndrome. Women and girls with Turner syndrome have 45 chromosomes, with one missing or incomplete X chromosome, instead of 46. About 10 percent of women and girls with Turner syndrome have aortic coarctation.

Sept. 15, 2015