What Are Congenital Heart Defects?

A congenital heart defect is a problem with the structure of the heart. Congenital heart defects are present at birth (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.

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

Severe defects are usually found during pregnancy or soon after birth. Signs and symptoms of severe defects in newborns include:
1. Rapid breathing
2. A bluish tint to the skin, lips, and fingernails (aka cyanosis)
3. Fatigue
4. Poor blood circulation

Treatment for congenital heart defects

The treatment depends on the type of defect, and a child's age, size, and general health. Many children with congenital heart defects don't need treatment. Those who do-treatment can include medicines, catheter procedures, surgery, and heart transplants.

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What is a cardiologist?
What is a heart attack?
What is arrhythmia?
What is coronary artery disease?
What is heart failure?