What Are the Symptoms of Coarctation of the Aorta?
In a less severe coarctation, sometimes there are no symptoms at birth, but the obstruction worsens over time, causing high blood pressure in the upper body and less blood flow to the lower body. The left heart has to pump harder and at higher pressures to overcome the obstruction. If the left ventricle cannot do so, it is called “heart failure.”
Additionally, there may be a difference in the pulses between the upper and lower half of the body. An abnormal murmur may also be noted on examination.
With very severe narrowing, symptoms usually develop soon after birth when the patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) closes. These symptoms include poor color, rapid breathing, mottled skin. All of these are symptoms of shock and may be confused with other illnesses that can occur in infants, such as severe infections.
There may not be abnormal murmurs on examination, and the blood pressure may not be elevated in the upper half of the body if the heart is not working well (heart failure). However, there may be other symptoms noted on the examination such as weak pulses and a difference between the pulses in the upper and lower half of the body. That alerts doctors to the possibility of coarctation of the aorta.