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Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of coarctation of the aorta

Brojendra N Agarwala, MD
Emile Bacha, MD, FACS
Qi Ling Cao, MD
Section Editors
David R Fulton, MD
Heidi M Connolly, MD, FASE
Deputy Editors
Carrie Armsby, MD, MPH
Susan B Yeon, MD, JD, FACC


Coarctation of the aorta is a narrowing of the descending aorta, which is typically located at the insertion of the ductus arteriosus just distal to the left subclavian artery (figure 1). This defect generally results in left ventricular pressure overload.

The clinical manifestations and diagnosis of coarctation of the aorta will be reviewed here. The management of coarctation, including corrective treatment options and outcome, such as the risk of recurrent coarctation, is discussed separately. (See "Management of coarctation of the aorta".)


Coarctation of the aorta accounts for 4 to 6 percent of all congenital heart defects with a reported prevalence of approximately 4 per 10,000 live births [1,2]. It occurs more commonly in males than in females (59 versus 41 percent) [3]. Most cases are sporadic.


Although there are acquired causes, the etiology of coarctation of the aorta is generally congenital.

Congenital — The vast majority of coarctation cases are congenital. Although the precise pathogenesis is unknown, the two main theories for the development of congenital coarctation of the aorta are:

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 21, 2016.
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