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. If you or your child has any of the following heart conditions, you or your child is more likely to have aortic coarctation:

  • 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.
  • Patent ductus arteriosus. While a baby is still in the womb, 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.
  • Aortic valve stenosis. This is a narrowing of the valve that separates the left ventricle of the heart from the aorta. This means your heart has to pump harder to get adequate blood flow to your body. Over time, this can thicken the muscle of your heart and lead to heart failure.
  • Mitral valve stenosis. This is a narrowing of the valve that lets blood flow through the left side of your heart. This means 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.

Coarctation of the aorta is also more common in people who have certain genetic conditions, such as Turner syndrome. Women and girls with this 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.

April 20, 2012