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Heart Chambers and Valves  
heart anatomy

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Blood Flow Through the Heart  

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Definition  

An interrupted aortic arch is a rare heart defect. The aortic arch is part of the major blood vessel that helps move blood from the heart to the rest of the body. With this defect, the aortic arch is interrupted or incomplete. Blood cannot flow through it normally. This makes blood flow to the body less efficient. Children with this defect may also have a hole in the wall between the right and left chambers in the heart.

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Causes  

A direct cause is not known. The defect develops in the fifth to seventh week of fetal growth. The child is born with the condition.

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Risk Factors  

There is an increased risk for this condition if your child also has DiGeorge syndrome. This is a chromosomal abnormality.

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Symptoms  

Symptoms typically appear within the first day or two after birth. Many times, the baby will show symptoms soon after birth. Tell your doctor if you notice the following in your infant or child:

  • Weakness
  • Poor feeding
  • Rapid breathing
  • Pale, blue, or cool skin
  • Decreased urine output

This condition can lead to shock and congestive heart failure. Your child will need emergency care.

During the exam, the doctor may detect:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Weak pulse
  • Low oxygen levels

These symptoms may be due to other conditions.

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Diagnosis  

The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Images may be taken of your child's chest. This can be done with:

Your child's heart activity may be measured. This can be done with electrocardiogram.

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Treatment  

Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include:

Medications  

Medicines, like Prostaglandin E1, will usually be given to keep some blood flowing through another blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus. This allows some blood to get around the interruption in the aorta. This is a temporary treatment.

Other medicines may be given to:

  • Help the heart beat stronger
  • Get rid of extra fluid in the body

Surgery  

Surgery is needed to correct the defect. Surgery aims to form a connection between the two parts of the aortic arch. The hole in the heart between the ventricles is also closed. The ductus arteriosus is then closed.

Lifelong Monitoring  

Your child will need to see a heart specialist regularly.

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Prevention  

There is no way to prevent this condition. Getting appropriate prenatal care is always important.