Congenital heart disease (congenital heart defect) is one or more abnormalities in your heart's structure that you're born with. This most common of congenital disabilities can alter the way blood flows through your heart.
Defects range from simple, which might cause no problems, to complex, which can cause life-threatening complications.
Some heart defects include:
- Hole in heart
- Defective vessels
- Leaky valves
- Missing heart chambers
- Children born with CHD have a high survivability rate.
- 40,000 children with CHD born annually (1% of all births)
- 85% survive to adulthood
- 4 million adults have CHD (2x as many adults are living with CHD than
- Many with CHD may not realize they need continued care as adults.
- Childhood treatments are not a cure
- 50% stop treatment by age 13
- 80% don't get recommended adult care
Why does CHD require lifelong, specialized care?
- Childhood treatments
- May be outgrown
- Can lose effectiveness
- Can trigger issues later as an adult
- CHD not treated as a child
- May not have been severe enough to handle but may worsen more than in life
- May have never been diagnosed
- CHD symptoms may appear later in life
- Sudden loss of consciousness
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Shortness of breath
A specialist for adults with CHD can advise on unique care needs.
- Heart-related care
- Heart rhythm
- Heart failure
Medical intervention, surgery or transplant
- Mental health
- Liver/ Kidney disease
Advances in diagnosis and treatment mean most babies who once died of congenital heart disease survive well into adulthood. However, signs and symptoms of the condition can occur in adults later in life, even those who had treatment as a child.
If you have congenital heart disease, you might need care throughout your life. Check with your doctor to determine how often you should be seen as an adult.
Advanced diagnosis and treatment
For people with congenital heart disease who require surgery, when possible, surgeons use minimally invasive heart surgery, which involves the use of smaller incisions.