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Aortic Coarctation

If a person doesn't have severe symptoms at birth, the aortic coarctation may go unnoticed until adulthood. It is most commonly discovered in adults between the ages of 15 and 40, often because the doctor notices a heart murmur in a patient with high blood pressure. Rarely, a patient may come for emergency treatment because of aortic rupture, infection or cerebral bleeding.

Tests to determine whether a coarctation is present include:

  • Blood pressure is checked to see whether there is lower blood pressure or reduced pulse in the legs compared to the arms
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), which records the heart's electrical activity
  • Chest X-ray to see the heart's size
  • Echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound examination of the heart
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce pictures of the heart

In addition, your doctor may use a cardiac catheterization procedure to inject a dye into the heart and to see on a moving picture X-ray how the heart and aorta are functioning.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Heart & Vascular Center

Cardiology Clinic at Mount Zion
1600 Divisadero St., Suite C-244
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 885-3666
Fax: (415) 885-3676
Appointment information

Cardiovascular Care and Prevention Center at Mission Bay
535 Mission Bay Blvd. South
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2873
Fax: (415) 353-2528
Appointment information

Congenital Heart Disease Clinic
535 Mission Bay Blvd. South
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2873
Fax: (415) 353-8687
Appointment information