Congenital Heart Defects

A congenital heart defect is a problem with the structure of the heart. It is present at birth. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect. The defects can involve the walls of the heart, the valves of the heart, and the arteries and veins near the heart. They can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart. The blood flow can slow down, go in the wrong direction or to the wrong place, or be blocked completely.

Doctors use a physical exam and special heart tests to diagnose congenital heart defects. They often find severe defects during pregnancy or soon after birth. Signs and symptoms of severe defects in newborns include

  • Rapid breathing
  • Cyanosis - a bluish tint to the skin, lips, and fingernails
  • Fatigue
  • Poor blood circulation

Many congenital heart defects cause few or no signs and symptoms. They are often not diagnosed until children are older.

Many children with congenital heart defects don't need treatment, but others do. Treatment can include medicines, catheter procedures, surgery, and heart transplants. The treatment depends on the type of the defect, how severe it is, and a child's age, size, and general health.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Symptoms of Congenital Heart Defects

The following features are indicative of Congenital Heart Defects:
  • rapid breathing
  • tiredness
  • chest pain
  • cyanosis
  • poor blood circulation
  • heart murmur
  • shortness of breath
  • poor feeding
It is possible that Congenital Heart Defects shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Congenital Heart Defects

The following are the most common causes of Congenital Heart Defects:
  • genetic disorders
  • smoking during pregnancy
  • environmental factors
  • maternal obesity

Risk Factors for Congenital Heart Defects

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Congenital Heart Defects:
  • family history of heart diseases
  • genetic conditions
  • use of alcohol or drugs during pregnancy

Prevention of Congenital Heart Defects

No, it is not possible to prevent Congenital Heart Defects.
  • birth defects

Occurrence of Congenital Heart Defects

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Congenital Heart Defects cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Congenital Heart Defects most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • At birth

Common Gender

Congenital Heart Defects can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Congenital Heart Defects

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Congenital Heart Defects:
  • Echocardiography: To evaluate any problem with the way the heart is working
  • Electrocardiogram: To record the heart's electrical activity
  • Chest x ray: To view the size and shape of the heart and lungs
  • Pulse oximetry: To measure the amount of oxygen in the blood
  • Cardiac catheterization: To measures the pressure inside the heart and blood vessels

Doctor for Diagnosis of Congenital Heart Defects

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Congenital Heart Defects:
  • Pediatric cardiologists
  • Cardiac surgeons

Complications of Congenital Heart Defects if untreated

Yes, Congenital Heart Defects causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Congenital Heart Defects is left untreated:
  • infective endocarditis
  • arrhythmia
  • liver disease
  • pulmonary hypertension
  • other diseases of adulthood such as diabetes, obesity, or atherosclerosis

Procedures for Treatment of Congenital Heart Defects

The following procedures are used to treat Congenital Heart Defects:
  • Surgery: Repair the heart or blood vessels

Self-care for Congenital Heart Defects

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Congenital Heart Defects:
  • Make healthy choices: Making healthy choices about nutrition
  • Engage in physical activity: Keeps your heart healthy

Patient Support for Treatment of Congenital Heart Defects

The following actions may help Congenital Heart Defects patients:
  • Regular visits to your doctor: Helps in allowing the parents of children with heart defects to make the best possible choices

Time for Treatment of Congenital Heart Defects

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Congenital Heart Defects to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 6 months - 1 year

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Congenital Heart Defects.
Birth Defects
Heart Diseases

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