Congenital heart disease

Definition of Congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease refers to a problem with the heart’s structure and function due to abnormal heart development before birth. Congenital means present at birth.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Congenital heart disease (CHD) can describe a number of different problems affecting the heart. It is the most common type of birth defect. Congenital heart disease is responsible for more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defects. Many of these defects need to be followed carefully. Some heal over time, others will require treatment.

Symptoms

Symptoms depend on the specific condition. While congenital heart disease is present at birth, the symptoms may not be immediately obvious. Defects such as may not cause problems for many years. Other problems, such as a small (VSD), may never cause any problems, and some people with a VSD have normal physical activity and a normal life span.

Signs and tests

Diagnostic tests depend on the specific condition.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the specific condition. Some congenital heart diseases can be treated with medication alone, while others require one or more surgeries.

Expectations (prognosis)

How well a patient does depends on the specific defect.

Review

Kurt R. Schumacher, MD, Pediatric Cardiology, University of Michigan Congenital Heart Center, Ann Arbor, MI. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 12/21/2009

Heart, section through the middle
Heart, front view
Ultrasound, normal fetus - heartbeat
Ultrasound, normal fetus - heartbeat
Patent ductus arteriosis (PDA) - series

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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