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Congenital Heart Defects

Summary

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

Start Here

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Symptoms

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Diagnosis and Tests

Treatments and Therapies

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • (American Heart Association) - PDF
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Living With

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  • (American Heart Association)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Related Issues

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  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
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  • (American Heart Association)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Specifics

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  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (Adult Congenital Heart Association)
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  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
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  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
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  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
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  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Human Genome Research Institute)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
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  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
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  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Genetics

  • (American Heart Association)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)

Statistics and Research

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Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

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  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Find an Expert

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Children

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  • (Nemours Foundation)
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
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  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (American Heart Association)
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  • (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in

Teenagers

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  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Women

  • (American Heart Association)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (Adult Congenital Heart Association)

Adults

  • (American Heart Association)

Patient Handouts

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