What is a coarctation?

If you’re like most people, the word ‘coarctation’ probably means absolutely nothing to you. And let’s face it – even if you did know what it meant, would that knowledge really come in handy as you go about your daily life? Probably not. But hey, we’re all about education here at FunnyHealthFacts.com, so today we’re going to teach you everything there is to know about this funky little medical term. So pack your bags and hop on board the learning train because things are about to get…coarctated? Is that a thing? It doesn’t matter! Let’s get started!


So first things first: what exactly is a coarctation? Well, in simple terms (because let’s be real – none of us have medical degrees), it refers to a narrowing of an artery in the body. Specifically, it usually occurs in the aorta – which is basically just the biggest blood vessel there is. When someone has a coarctation in their aorta, it means that part of that vessel has become too narrow for proper blood flow.


Okay but seriously guys – why does this happen? Why does part of our big ol’ blood tube decide to constrict itself and make things difficult for our bodies? The answer lies within ourselves…literally. Sometimes when we’re developing in utero (that fancy Latin way of saying “when we were still hanging out inside our mom”), something goes awry with how certain parts of us form or grow. In the case of coarctations specifically, this can mean that one section or side of an artery grows less than another section/side until BOOM! You’ve got yourself some unwanted constriction.


So now comes the million dollar question: what happens when someone has a coarctation? Well, to put it simply: not a lot of great things. The reduced blood flow caused by the narrowed artery can lead to heaps of issues depending on where in the body that artery is (just like how if you drive down one lane instead of four on the highway, traffic’s gonna start backing up and getting chaotic). Some general symptoms though can include:

  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain (whomp whomp)
  • Cold legs or feet
  • Weak pulse in certain areas

Diagnosis: Unfortunate

Alright so bad news bears – if any of those symptoms are sounding suspiciously familiar, there’s a chance your doc may order some tests to see if you have a coarctation. One such test might be an echocardiogram – which sounds like something from either outer space or Harry Potter but is actually just when doctors look at an ultrasound image of your heart (you know…no big deal). Other possible tests could include MRI scans or CT angiograms, all designed to give doctors more information about what’s going on with that pesky little narrowing.

Treat me right!

So let’s say someone does get diagnosed with a coarctation – what happens now? Depending on the severity and location of their particular whole-in-the-tube situation (yup, we’re committed to keeping this humorous even during medical discussions), treatment options may vary. In many cases surgery is needed because sorry folks – this isn’t usually something our bodies can heal themselves. Surgery might involve fully removing the narrow bit and replacing it with fresh new tube (like switching out old Halloween candy for new stuff), although sometimes less invasive techniques can work as well.

Another method called “balloon angioplasty” involves using..well…a balloon! Doctors guide a tiny deflated balloon through your blood vessels until it reaches the constricted area, then they inflate it to open up space (almost like a teeny-tiny plumber). Sometimes in truly life-threatening situations doctors might even perform emergency surgery within hours of diagnosing.

The aftermath

In general though, most people who undergo treatment for coarctations can return pretty quickly to their normal lives (although we’re not sure they’d consider actually having a medical professional stick balloons inside them as “normal”). Finding an experienced physician and following any post-surgery instructions carefully is key to maximize chances of going back to feeling 100%.

Of course, everyone’s situation is unique – which means recovery times could vary from weeks to months. So if you or anyone you know does end up being diagnosed with a coarctation and has unanswered questions (because let’s face it – we only gave you the hot-and-cold leg status portion so far), talk to your doc! They’ll be able to give more personalized information on what kind of path forward makes sense.

Life goes on

In conclusion: while hopefully none of us will ever have direct experience dealing with something like a coarctation, knowledge never hurts (usually)! Understanding why certain health conditions pop up when they do can make us all better equipped individuals when faced with our own health pitfalls down the road. Who knows? Maybe one day in conversation someone will casually mention constricted arteries and BAM – that lightbulb will go off in your head because NBD but I already learned about this on FunnyHealthFacts.com!

results may vary

Random Posts