Anomalous Left Coronary Artery from the Pulmonary Artery (ALCAPA) | MedStar Health

A rare, serious heart defect that develops before birth

It is very rare that an adult is diagnosed with anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery (ALCAPA). This is a congenital heart disease that is almost always diagnosed in babies.

In a healthy heart, the left coronary artery (LCA) carries oxygen-rich blood from the aorta to the heart muscle. The aorta is the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the rest of the body.

But in a person born with ALCAPA, the LCA isn’t connected to the aorta. Instead, it’s connected to the pulmonary artery, which carries low-oxygen blood to the lungs. Because the LCA pulls blood from the pulmonary artery instead of the aorta, the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen.

Symptoms of ALCAPA

Adults with ALCAPA typically will have one or more of these symptoms:

If left untreated, ALCAPA can result in serious complications, such as:

People with ALCAPA who receive treatment typically recover well and lead normal lives. Experts from our Adult Congenital Heart Center team will follow-up with you regularly to make sure your treatment is successful.

Tests

If we suspect you have ALCAPA, we will order a variety of imaging and other diagnostic tests to be sure. Some of these may include:

Angiogram (Angiography)

An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Treatments

Our adult congenital heart disease specialists will work with you to develop a plan to manage your condition. This could include medication or surgical procedures, such as:

Anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery surgical treatment

Several methods can be used to correct anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery (ALCAPA), in which the left coronary artery branches off from the pulmonary artery instead of the aorta.

Coronary artery bypass surgery

Coronary artery bypass surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), restores normal blood flow through narrowed or blocked coronary arteries by using a healthy blood vessel taken from your leg, arm, or chest to create a detour around the problem area.

Additional information

Adult Congenital Heart Center

When you’re born with a heart problem, you may need complex care throughout your life. Our experts tailor this specialized care to your unique needs.

Read our Cardiovascular Performance & Outcomes Booklet

Ask MHVI

Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net.