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Care of a Child with an Aortic Coarctation

by Claire Kimmett, Dasha Shalin, Hilary Ng, Meikah Manak


Your Child's Journey with an Aortic Coarctation
Group 04
What is COA?
COA stands for coarctation of the aorta. The aorta is a blood vessel that carries oxygen rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Coarctation of the aorta means that a section of the aorta is narrowed, making it harder for the heart to pump blood out to the body.
COA can cause the blood to back up into the left ventricle, which is the section of the heart that connects to and pumps blood through the aorta. This increases the pressure in the left ventricle, causing the heart muscles to have to work harder to pump blood effectively.

Coarctation usually affects the part of the aorta that brings blood to the lower body. This means that it can be difficult for enough blood to reach the lower body. If the narrowing is severe enough and is not diagnosed, it can lead to thickening and weakening of the heart muscle, and eventually heart failure.
Check this Out for Further Explanation!
What Causes COA?
It is unknown what exactly causes COA.
The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel normally present in fetuses. It connects the aorta and another blood vessel, the pulmonary artery. It normally closes a few days after birth, and has special tissue that allows it to do so. Narrowing of the aorta usually happens near this blood vessel.

One theory is that some of the tissue from the ductus arteriosus may extend into the aorta, and when this tissue tightens and causes the ductus arteriosus to close, it may also pinch or narrow the aorta, causing coarctation.

This can be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as family history, or things in the environment the mother was exposed to during pregnancy.
Canadian Context
About 5-8% of individuals who have a heart defect have a coarctation of the aorta. This means that about 16,000 people in Canada have a coarctation of the heart. It is one of the most common congenital heart defects.
DIAGNOSTICS - How do I know that my child has COA?
COA usually presents itself soon after birth, but is not seen at birth. Symptoms may develop within the first week after delivery.

Your child may experience:
- Pale, Blue-Tinged Skin
- Irritability or Grouchiness
- Poor Feeding, Decreased Food Intake

In addition to the following clinical presentations:
- High Blood Pressure
- Blood Pressure Differences between Arms and Legs
- Fast Heart Rate
- Fast Respiratory Rate
- Poor Capillary Refill
- Poor or Absent Pulses in Legs