An Anomaly at Birth:Coarctation of the Aorta

Coarctation of the Aorta is a defect that normally occurs at birth. This is characterized by the narrowing of a part of the aorta, the major blood vessel that brings oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. This condition is quite common and it accounts for 5 to 8 percent of the total congenital cardiac defects. This condition may be an isolated defect or be coupled with other cardiac anomalies such as ventricular septal defect. There is no definite cause for this condition but it has been associated with taking Zoloft during pregnancy. Another is that it is said that Zoloft increases the risk of autism in kids born to women who were taking the medication when they were pregnant.

What happens in Coarctation of the Aorta?

In this condition, the aorta is narrowed but the heart still needs to deliver the right amount of oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body so it compensates by pumping harder. As a result of this abnormal activity, the individual may have complications such as hypertension and stroke. Other severe complications that may arise are stenosis of the blood vessels towards the heart, rupture of the aorta and brain aneurysms. A case of organ failure may arise if the demand for blood throughout the rest of the body is not sufficiently met. These complications are serious and can cause the life of the sufferer so immediate medical care is needed.

How is Coarctation of the Aorta managed?

The condition should be diagnosed before treatment methods can be carried. Symptoms will depend on the extent of the condtion but almost always, these are manifested by by new-borns in their first few days such as pale skin, heavy sweating, labored breathing and signs of irritability. Surgery should be performed as early as possible because it can lead to severe heart failure and even death if left untreated. Medication is used to manage the hypertension but it cannot treat the Coarctation. Babies with severe cases of Coarctation may be given the drug, Prostaglandin E to maintain a patent ductus arteriosus so blood will still flow around the constriction until the heart defect is corrected. After the surgery, ant-hypertensive medication is still needed because blood pressure may still be higher than normal. The best management will always be prevention so the pregnant woman must be careful especially in taking medications as reports of Zoloft birth defects included Coarctation of the aorta.

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