Congenital Heart Defect: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

A congenital heart defect is an abnormality in the anatomy of the heart that is present at birth (a type of birth defect). There are many different types of congenital heart defects, ranging from mild to severe. A congenital heart defect is the most common type of birth defect.

Signs and symptoms associated with a congenital heart defect depend both on the specific type of defect and its severity, meaning the degree of disruption of normal blood flow. Associated symptoms and signs can include rapid breathing, a blue tint to the skin and nails (known as cyanosis), and fatigue. Other possible signs and symptoms can include delayed growth and development or heart murmur.

Cause of congenital heart defect

The cause of most congenital heart defects is not well understood, although genetic (hereditary or inherited) conditions may cause some congenital heart defects.

Other congenital heart defect symptoms and signs

  • Blue Tint to the Nails and Skin (Cyanosis)
  • Delayed Development and Growth
  • Fatigue
  • Heart Murmur
  • Rapid Breathing


In the U.S., 1 in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease. See Answer

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Heart Health Newsletter

By clicking "Submit," I agree to the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. I also agree to receive emails from MedicineNet and I understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet subscriptions at any time.

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.