Coarctation of the aorta symptoms depend on the severity of the condition. Most people don't have symptoms. Children with serious aortic narrowing may show signs and symptoms earlier in life, but mild cases with no symptoms might not be diagnosed until adulthood. People may also have signs or symptoms of other heart defects that they have along with coarctation of the aorta.

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

  • Pale skin
  • Irritability
  • Heavy sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty feeding

Left untreated, aortic coarctation in babies might lead to heart failure or death.

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

  • High blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Leg cramps or cold feet
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chest pain

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 might help save your life.

Sept. 15, 2015