Coarctation of the aorta symptoms depend on the seriousness of the condition. Children with serious aortic narrowing tend to show signs and symptoms earlier in life, while mild cases may not be diagnosed until adulthood.

Babies with severe coarctation of the aorta usually begin having signs and symptoms shortly after birth. These include:

  • Pale skin
  • Irritability
  • Heavy sweating
  • Difficulty breathing

Left untreated, aortic coarctation in babies may lead to heart failure and death.

Older children and adults with the condition often don't have symptoms, because they tend to have less severe narrowing of the aorta. If signs or symptoms appear, the most common sign is high blood pressure (hypertension) measured in the arm. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath, especially during exercise
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Leg cramps or cold feet
  • Nosebleeds

When to see a doctor

Seek medical help if you or your child has the following signs or symptoms:

  • Severe chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Unexplained high blood pressure

While experiencing these signs or symptoms doesn't necessarily mean that you have a serious problem, it's best to get checked out quickly. Early detection and treatment may help save your life.

Apr. 20, 2012

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.