Dubai: A 22-year-old man was successfully treated for a serious heart condition, coarctation of the aorta (narrowing of the major artery), with a non-surgical procedure at RAK Hospital.

The patient had suffered from the disease since birth and reportedly became aware of it only after tests were conducted to determine the cause of his hypertension. The procedure, know as angioplasty with stenting, was done so he could have a normal blood pressure.

One in 2,500 children is born with coarctation of the aorta. This congenital heart disease is more common in baby boys than girls, RAK Hospital revealed.

Coarctation of the aorta is a narrowing of part of the aorta (the major artery leading out of the heart). It is a type of birth defect. The exact cause of coarctation of the aorta is unknown. It results from abnormalities in development of the aorta before birth. The aorta carries blood from the heart to the vessels that supply the body with blood. If a part of the aorta is narrowed, it is hard for blood to pass through the artery.

“Coarctation of the aorta symptoms depend on the seriousness of the condition. Children with serious aortic narrowing tend to show signs and symptoms earlier in life, while mild cases may not be diagnosed until adulthood. Babies with severe coarctation of the aorta usually begin having signs and symptoms shortly after birth. These include pale skin, irritability, heavy sweating and difficulty breathing,” Dr Mukesh Nathani, Senior Specialist and Head of Cardiology at RAK Hospital, said.

“If left untreated, aortic coarctation in babies may lead to heart failure and death. Older children and adults with the condition often don’t have symptoms, because they tend to have less severe narrowing of the aorta. The most common sign of the disease is high blood pressure (hypertension) measured in the arm.”

Dr Nathani emphasised the importance of physical examination for evaluation of hypertension, especially where children and young adults are concerned. “Usually blood pressure checks are skipped at paediatric visits,” he said. “However, we recommend insisting on blood pressure checks for children. Hypertension in children and young adults are often secondary. It is likely due to a treatable cause and indicates a serious underlying condition. Seek medical help if you or your child have symptoms such as severe chest pain, fainting, sudden shortness of breath or unexplained high blood pressure. While experiencing these signs or symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a serious problem, it’s best to get it checked quickly.”

Dr Nathani said early detection and treatment may help save a patient’s life.

Dr Raza Seddiqi, CEO Arabian Healthcare Group and Executive Director of RAK Hospital, said: “The standard treatment for native and recurrent coarctation involves open heart surgery. However, I am so proud to claim that we at RAK Hospital are able to treat even complex and high-risk surgeries using minimally invasive procedures. RAK Hospital’s tie up with Fortis Escorts, India’s pioneering cardiac care institute, puts us in the forefront of cardiac care in the UAE and has helped in establishing the institution as the key player in the segment.”