Approximately half of all infants diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta have no other cardiac defects and respond well to medical management, growing and developing normally. These infants are generally asymptomatic and will eventually outgrow the condition after several years of life. Although hypertension may increase for several months early in life, it eventually decreases as the circulatory system develops and vessels become larger.
Symptomatic children who have other heart defects generally respond well to repair surgery, and COA symptoms are reduced. The mortality rate for COA infants is about 5 percent. The average life span of children who have coarctation of the aorta is 34 years of age, reduced primarily due to complications and to the presence of other heart problems. The most common complications following repair surgery are postoperative renal failure and recoarctation. Complications in children who have not had surgery are hypertension, aortic rupture, intracranial bleeding, and congestive heart failure. Undetected or untreated COA can also lead to early adulthood death due to congestive heart failure, systemic hypertension, coronary artery disease, and aortic aneurysm. Women who have an uncorrected coarctation of the aorta have a mortality rate of 10 percent during pregnancy and a 90 percent rate of complications.
L. Lee Culvert, John T. Lohr PhD, Thomson Gale, Gale, Detroit,