Congenital Heart Defects What are Congenital Heart Defects?
Congenital heart defects, or diseases, are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. They may change the normal flow of blood through the heart. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect, occurring in about one percent of live births in the United States.
There are many types of congenital heart defects. The most common defects involve the inside walls of the heart, the valves of the heart, or the large blood vessels that carry blood to and from the heart. Some defects are simple and require no treatment, while others are critical and require treatment soon after birth.
Doctors often do not know why congenital heart defects occur, but several factors can raise the risk of having a baby born with a heart problem. Some risks include smoking or taking certain medicines during pregnancy, and a family history of congenital heart defects.
Congenital heart defects can usually be found by a doctor based on symptoms or by newborn or prenatal screenings. Sometimes, a doctor may need to run heart tests to help diagnose you or your baby with a congenital heart defect.
Over the last several years, the diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects has improved. For example, there are better options for treatment, such as medicines and procedures. Now, many children and adults are living with or have recovered from congenital heart defects. Managing your condition by receiving routine follow-up care, taking care of your mental health, and monitoring your condition can all help reduce complications and improve your quality of life.