Welcome to UMHS Interpreter Services MedTerm Corner!
I would like to share with you some of the medical terms we encounter working in the field of medical interpreting. Some of the terms are very common and some of them are extremely rare and we do not hear those terms often. If you have bumped into interesting/ questionable/ unknown term, please, share this with me, so we can discuss it together.
Recently, I interpreted for a patient diagnosed with Coarctation of the Aorta. So, what is Coarctation?
Coarctation (ko-ahrk-TAY-shun) of the aorta — or aortic coarctation — is a narrowing of the aorta, the large blood vessel that branches off the heart and delivers oxygen-rich blood to our body. Another medical term for a narrowing is – stenosis. When this occurs, the heart must pump harder to force blood through the narrow part of the aorta.
Coarctation of the aorta is generally present at birth (congenital). Congenital means that the problem developed before birth and the baby was already born with the defect. Coarctation of the aorta can range from mild to severe, and might not be detected until adulthood, depending on how narrowed the aorta is. Coarctation of the aorta often occurs along with other heart defects. While surgical treatment for coarctation of the aorta is usually successful, it’s a condition that requires careful follow-up through adulthood.
Coarctation of the aorta symptoms depend on the severity of the condition. Most people don’t have symptoms. Children with serious aortic narrowing may show signs and symptoms earlier in life, but mild cases with no symptoms might not be diagnosed until adulthood. People may also have signs or symptoms of other heart defects that they have along with coarctation of the aorta.
Babies with severe coarctation of the aorta may begin having signs and symptoms shortly after birth. These include:
- Pale skin
- Heavy sweating
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty feeding
While the blood pressure is high in the arms, the blood pressure is often lower in the legs of those with coarctation of the aorta. Left untreated, aortic coarctation in babies might lead to heart failure or death.
Some years ago doctors performed a surgery almost immediately after birth. Nowadays, they prefer to wait till the baby grows and becomes stronger before performing a surgery. If babies do not have severe symptoms or changes doctors prefer to wait till the baby is 1 year old, following the baby closely at the Pediatric Cardiology clinic.
Some material was taken from mayoclinic.org.