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Coarctation of the Aorta

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Heart condition where the aorta narrows

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      07.04.2011 12:40
      Very helpful



      As above

      what is Coartation of the aorta?

      The aorta is the major artery that carries blood away from the heart to the body. When someone has coarctation of the aorta, that person's aorta is narrowed at some point.

      When part of the aorta is narrowed, called a coarctation the defect can affect the body's blood circulation because the left side of the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the narrowed aorta. Sometimes the narrowing is minor and might not even cause symptoms. In other cases the aorta may be more constricted, placing a strain on the heart's left ventricle (the chamber that pumps blood to the aorta and out to the body).

      A coarctation can occur anywhere in the aorta, but most often is found just beyond the point where the arteries that carry the blood to the upper body and head branch off from the aorta.

      Coarctation of the aorta, COA for short, is a congenital defect, meaning that someone is born with it. Doctors don't know for sure why certain people are born with COA.

      Signs of this condition include
      Often the first sign that someone has COA is an abnormal blood pressure test. During a physical exam, the doctor may find that a person with a coarctation has higher blood pressure in the arms than in the legs. The doctor also might hear a heart murmur or notice that the pulses felt in the groin area or on the feet are weak or even absent.

      Teens and adults who have COA often do not have any symptoms or have only mild signs that are discovered during a regular visit to the doctor. Someone with symptoms may notice some or all of these:

      * cold legs and feet
      * shortness of breath, especially when exercising
      * chest pain

      Doctors often recommend that COA be treated quickly, especially in teens and adults. The longer a COA is left untreated, the more likely it is that the person will have high blood pressure even after the COA is fixed. If it's left untreated indefinitely, the defect can be fatal in many people by the age of 40.

      (most of the above info was taken from a website to give you an understanding of this heart problem)

      I shall now tell you my experience with this:

      My son who is now 8 months old also has hirschprungs disease which I have already written a prevoius review on. Unfortunatley he has coartation of the aorta to. This is my story.

      Jack was already in hospital due to his hirschprungs disease at this time as he had an operation to put his stoma in place. This was his 3rd time in hospital already and he was just over 2 months old. He was recovering well from his operation and we was at home at the time we got a phone call from a student nurse telling us to bring jacks carseat as he could go home that day. YAY we was really excited to get him back home.
      Sadly when we got there his heart was being scanned (bear in mind we never knew anything was wrong at this point) so I asked what they were doing?
      They replied they are scanning it as a heart murmour was found 5 days ago in milton keynes general (he was currently in john radcliff oxford hospital)
      I was kind of shocked as I was told he was going home today, theres no way hes going home they replied! angry and scared doesnt even come close to how i felt right then.
      They then done a echocardiogram (which is a test that uses sound waves to create a picture of the heart and its circulation) After he had this done we was told he had coartation of the aorta and it was moderate to severe.
      From my information I realised this should of been picked up when he was younger and also when he had a blood transfusion as his blood pressure was taken and I queried how high it was something like 170/100 and I know that a babys blood pressure should be half of what the top number was. nothing was further done.
      Anyway we was then told he had to go to southampton general to repair his coartation. This surgery involved making a cut into his side just under his arm. and basically widening the main artery to blood can pump through easier and hopefully return his blood pressure to normal.
      We was then told he has somehow got septecemia and ecoli so he was on a course of antibiotics to get rid of this. we was so scared as we know these infections could be serious.
      Lucikly he overcome this but was then transferred to southampton where he was going to have his heart surgery. we was told about what they will do and the risks involved and that when hes around 10 years old this condition could come back and he would then need a stent (like a ballon inserted through keyhole surgery that inflates). This is because of the body changes that happen. We was also told he may suffer high blood pressure for a long period of time.
      We had to sign a form that said something may go round and basically he could rupture and blled to death or it might go wrong and sudden death can occur, imagine the feeling of hacing to sign a consent to that. My husband done this as I could bring myself to sign it.
      He had a pre med which was scary as it put him in a deep sleep and he went all floppy. I took him down to theatre and watched them put so many drugs into him and i kissed him and then had to leave.
      This was the hardest thing i have ever done in my life without a doubt.
      This procedure only took about an hour but we didnt see him till about 4 hours due to recovery and they had to set up alot of things in intensive care.
      I then went to see him and was in floods of tears as i saw him lying there motionless with a respiratory tube down his throat and about 7 other tubes and a central line in his neck which was incase they needed to get something into a vein immediatley. We was told his repair had gone well and there was no problems but the narrowing was more severe than they first thought.
      He recovered suprisingly well and was out in 10 days, although he was on a blood pressure medcine called propananol and he had to have 0.6ml 3 times a day until his blood pressure was lower. February this year he went for a check up and they took him off this medcine and hes now doing well but he will need heart check ups for the rest of his life.
      Again this is rare disease that combined with his hirschprungs disease we were told we had more chance of winning the lottery, well I would of preferred the lottery win!

      We are told jack can still lead a normal life but certain activities may be harder to do.
      He really has had a hard little life but I am thankful he is still here with us and gradually life can start to form a bit of normality.

      Thank you for taking the time to read this x


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