Congenital heart defects are heart problems that are present at birth. Genetics may play a role in some heart defects. Symptoms can range from nonexistent to severe and life-threatening. Fatigue, rapid breathing, and decreased blood circulation are a few possible symptoms of congenital heart defects. Many cases do not require any treatment. Procedures using catheters and surgery may be used to repair severe heart defects. Read more: Congenital Heart Defects Article
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Picture of Heart Detail
The heart is composed of specialized cardiac muscle, and it is four-chambered, with a right atrium and ventricle, and an...
Picture of Heart Catheter
Catheter procedures are much easier than surgery on patients because they involve only a needle puncture in the skin where the...
Picture of Clubbed Nails
Increased curvature of the nail plate may be due to a wide variety of causes. See a picture of Clubbed Nails and learn more about...
Picture of Heart
The muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body. See a picture of the Heart and learn more...
Related Disease Conditions
How the Heart Works (Sides, Chambers, and Function)
The heart is a very important organ in the body. It is responsible for continuously pumping oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout your body to sustain life. It is a fist-sized muscle that beats (expands and contracts) 100,000 times per day, pumping a total of five or six quarts of blood each minute, or about 2,000 gallons per day.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Birth Control Options (Types and Side Effects)
Birth control is available in a variety of methods and types. The method of birth control varies from person to person, and their preferences to either become pregnant or not. Examples of barrier methods include barrier methods (sponge, spermicides, condoms), hormonal methods (pill, patch), surgical sterilization (tubal ligation, vasectomy), natural methods, and the morning after pill. Side effects and risks of each birth control option should be reviewed prior to using any birth control method.
Ascites, the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity is most commonly caused by cirrhosis of the liver. Some of the other causes of ascites include portal hypertension, congestive heart failure, blood clots, and pancreatitis. The most common symptoms include increased abdominal girth and size, abdominal bloating, and abdominal pain. Treatment depends on the cause of ascites.
Fatigue can be described in various ways. Sometimes fatigue is described as feeling a lack of energy and motivation (both mental and physical). The causes of fatigue are generally related to a variety of conditions or diseases, for example, anemia, mono, medications, sleep problems, cancer, anxiety, heart disease, and drug abuse.Treatment of fatigue is generally directed toward the condition or disease that is causing the fatigue.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Signs, Causes, Diet, and Treatment
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a disease in which pressure within the arteries of the body is elevated. About 75 million people in the US have hypertension (1 in 3 adults), and only half of them are able to manage it. Many people do not know that they have high blood pressure because it often has no has no warning signs or symptoms. Systolic and diastolic are the two readings in which blood pressure is measured. The American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure in 2017. The guidelines now state that blood normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. If either one of those numbers is higher, you have high blood pressure. The American Academy of Cardiology defines high blood pressure slightly differently. The AAC considers 130/80 mm Hg. or greater (either number) stage 1 hypertension. Stage 2 hypertension is considered 140/90 mm Hg. or greater. If you have high blood pressure you are at risk of developing life threatening diseases like stroke and heart attack.REFERENCE: CDC. High Blood Pressure. Updated: Nov 13, 2017.
Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to the heart. Heart disease can lead to heart attack. Risk factors for heart disease include: Smoking High blood pressure High cholesterol Diabetes Family history Obesity Angina, shortness of breath, and sweating are just a few symptoms that may indicate a heart attack. Treatment of heart disease involves control of heart disease risk factors through lifestyle changes, medications, and/or stenting or bypass surgery. Heart disease can be prevented by controlling heart disease risk factors.
Chest pain is a common complaint by a patient in the ER. Causes of chest pain include broken or bruised ribs, pleurisy, pneumothorax, shingles, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, angina, heart attack, costochondritis, pericarditis, aorta or aortic dissection, and reflux esophagitis. Diagnosis and treatment of chest pain depends upon the cause and clinical presentation of the patient's chest pain.
Pulmonary hypertension is elevated pressure in the pulmonary arteries that carry blood from the lungs to the heart. The most common symptoms are fatigue and difficulty breathing. If the condition goes undiagnosed, more severe symptoms may occur. As pulmonary hypertension worsens, some people with the condition have difficulty performing any activities that require physical exertion. While there is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, it can be managed and treated with medications and supplemental oxygen to increase blood oxygen levels.
Mitral Valve Prolapse (Syndrome, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Surgery)
Mitral valve prolapse (MVP), also called "click murmur syndrome" and "Barlow's syndrome," is the most common type of heart valve abnormality. Usually, people with mitral valve prolapse have no signs and symptoms; however, if the prolapsed valve is severe, symptoms may appear. When symptoms of severe mitral valve prolapse do appear, they may include, fatigue, palpitations, chest pain, anxiety, migraine headaches, and pulmonary edema. Echocardiography is the most useful test for mitral valve prolapse. Most people with mitral valve need no treatment. However, if the valve prolapse is severe, treatment medications or surgery may be necessary to repair the heart valve.
Heart failure (congestive) is caused by many conditions including coronary artery disease, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, and conditions that overwork the heart. Symptoms of heart failure include congested lungs, fluid and water retention, dizziness, fatigue and weakness, and rapid or irregular heartbeats. There are two types of congestive heart failure, systolic or left-sided heart failure; and diastolic or right-sided heart failure. Treatment, prognosis, and life-expectancy for a person with congestive heart failure depends upon the stage of the disease.
Aortic Valve Stenosis (Symptoms, Causes, Surgery)
Aortic valve stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the aortic valve of the heart. The causes of aortic stenosis are wear and tear of the valve in the elderly, congenital, or scarring or scarring of the aortic valve from rheumatic fever. Symptoms include angina, fainting, and shortness of breath. Treatment is dependant upon the severity of the condition.
Heart Murmur in Newborns, Children, and Adults
A heart murmur is a heart problem that can occur, for example, during pregnancy or exercise, or it can be a symptom of serious heart condition, for example, congenital heart defects or heart valve disease. A heart murmur makes a whooshing or swishing sound. Symptoms of a heart murmur include swelling of the legs or feet, dizzy or lightheaded, black outs, chest pain, rapid heart rate (palpitations), difficulty doing normal daily activities, fatigue, and a bluish tinge on the skin, lips, and fingernails. Treatment for heart murmurs in infants, children, and adults depend on the cause. Some heart murmurs can be harmless while some are serious and life threatening.
Endocarditis, a serious infection of one of the four heart valves is caused by growth of bacteria on one of the heart valves; leading to an infected massed called a "vegetation." The infection can be caused by having bacteria in the bloodstream after dental work, colonoscopy, or other similar procedures. Endocarditis symptoms include: fever, fatigue, weakness, chills, aching muscles and joints, night sweats, edema in the legs, feet, or abdomen, malaise, shortness of breath and small skin lesions. Treatment for endocarditis is generally aggressive antibiotic treatment.
Aortic dissection is a small tear in the large blood vessel that leads from the heart and supplies blood to the body. There are two types of aortic dissection, type 1 and type 2. Signs and symptoms of aortic dissection include a tearing or ripping pain, nausea, sweating, weakness, shortness of breath, sweating, or fainting. Treatment depends on the type of aortic dissection, and the severity of the tear in the aorta.
Children's health is focused on the well-being of children from conception through adolescence. There are many aspects of children's health, including growth and development, illnesses, injuries, behavior, mental illness, family health, and community health.
Abnormal Heart Rhythms (Heart Rhythm Disorders)
Heart rhythm disorders vary from minor palpitations, premature atrial contractions (PACs), premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), sinus tachycardia, and sinus brachycardia, to abnormal heart rhythms such as tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, ventricular flutter, atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome, brachycardia, or heart blocks. Treatment is dependent upon the type of heart rhythm disorder.
Loeys-Dietz syndrome is an inherited genetic syndrome characterized by aortic aneurysms in children. Children with Loeys-Dietz syndrome are at a greater risk of dying from aortic aneurysms, because the aneurysms are prone to rupture at a smaller size than other aneurysms. Physical characteristics of the syndrome include early fusion of the skull bones, widely spaced eyes, and split uvula or cleft palate. Treatment includes surgical repair fo the aneurysms.
Birth defects have many causes and currently, are the leading cause of death for infants in the first year of life. Some of the causes of birth defects include genetic or chromosome problems. Exposure of the mother to rubella or German measles during pregnancy, or using drugs or alcohol during pregnancy. The treatment for birth defects depends upon the condition of the effected child.
Ventricular Septal Defect
A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a congenital heart malformation. A VSD is a hole in the wall of the heart's two lower chambers. Approximately one in 500 infants will be born with a VSD. Treatment depends upon whether the VSD is small or large in size.
Urine Blockage in Newborns
There are many syndromes and defects that may cause urine blockage in newborns. Defects in the urinary tract that may cause urine blockage include vesicoureteral reflux, ureteropelvic junction obstruction, bladder outlet obstruction, posterior urethral valves, nerve disease, and ureterocele. Syndromes that may cause urinary blockage include congenital heart defects, esophageal atresia, and prune belly syndrome. Treatment for urine blockage in newborns depends on the cause of the blockage.
Treating the Flu in People with Health Risks
Certain portions of the population are at an increased risk of suffering serious complications from the flu. Some of these indviduals at risk include: those with asthma, COPD, heart disease, liver or kidney disease, HIV, AIDs, elderly, women who are pregnant, and children under the age of two. Contact your physician if you have the flu immediately so that you receive the proper care to prevent serious complications.
Noonan syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes birth defects (congenital malformations) such as short stature, caved-in chestbone, webbing of the neck as well as heart and blood vessel defects. Named after Dr. Jacqueline A. Noonan it is inherited as an autosomal dominant disorder. The Noonan gene (NS1) is on a nonsex (autosomal) chromosome (number 12) and is transmitted from a parent with a 50% probability to boy or girl. Treatment for Noonan syndrome is directed toward the problems that may occur in a given affected individual. The heart defects may require surgical treatment. The expected outcome (prognosis) depends on the extent and severity of the features that are present.
Local ResourcesFind a local Cardiologist in your town
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- AHA News: What Do We Know About Congenital Heart Disease and Coronavirus?
- Artificial Heart Valve Would Grow With Kids, Cutting Need for Repeat Surgeries
- AHA News: Baby Born With 'One-of-a-Kind' Heart Receives Transplant
- AHA News: For Kids With Heart Defects, the Hospital Near Mom May Matter
- AHA News: Serious Heart Defects Increase Heart Failure Risk in Early Adulthood
- AHA News: Congenital Heart Disease Linked to Neighborhood Pollution, Poverty
- AHA News: Prolific Pianist Uses Music to Heal, Inspire
- AHA News: Adopted Baby's Unexpected Heart Problem Brought Unexpected Joy
- AHA News: She Appeared to Be a Healthy Athlete, But Nobody Had Checked Her Heart
- 3-D Printers Might Someday Make Replacement Hearts
- AHA News: Couple Kept the Faith as Baby Neared Death -- and Then a Transplant Saved Him
- Smoking Around Expectant Moms Can Harm Babies' Hearts
- Newborn Heart Problems Surged After Fukushima Nuke Disaster: Study
- AHA News: Even 'Mild' Congenital Heart Disease Poses Risk Later in Life
- AHA News: Kids With Heart Defects Joined Jackie Kennedy, LBJ to Raise Awareness
- AHA News: Her New Workout Routine Helped Spot a Rare Heart Defect
- Climate Change Could Bring More Infant Heart Defects: Study
- Heart Defects, Sleep Apnea a Deadly Mix for Infants
- Cardiac Defects in Baby Tied to Later Heart Trouble in Moms
- Mom-to-Be's High Blood Sugar May Raise Baby's Odds for Heart Defects
- Surviving Congenital Heart Disease as Child Not a Ticket to Good Health
- Learning Issues Common in Kids With Heart Defects: Study
- Pregnancy OK for Most Women With Congenital Heart Conditions: Report
- Tracking Blood Sugar in Pregnancy Might Lower Heart Defect Risk for Baby
- Heart Birth Defects Dropped After Folic Acid Was Added to Food
- 3-D Printed Model Helps Delicate Kidney Surgery
- Heart Defects at Birth May Raise Risk for PTSD Later in Life
- Some Kids With Heart Defects Struggle in School
- High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy Tied to Newborn Heart Defects
- Mom's Healthy Diet Linked to Lower Heart Defect Risk at Birth
- Smoking in Pregnancy May Be Linked to Baby's Heart Defects
- Guidelines Aim to Detect More Congenital Heart Defects in Womb
- Surgical 'Glue' May Help Repair Sick Children's Hearts
- Some Birth Defects in the Heart Present Infection Risk, Study Finds
- Heart Device 'Shock' Anxiety May Hamper Sex Life
- More Infants Surviving With Serious Heart Defects, Study Finds
- Stress During Pregnancy May Raise Heart Defect Risk for Baby
- Children Born With Heart Defects Show Growth Lags 3 Years Later
- Quality of Life Can Suffer for Kids With Heart Devices
- Common Antidepressants Too Risky During Pregnancy, Researchers Say
- Scientists Map Genetic 'Blueprint' of Heart
- Can a Parent's Job Raise Odds for Birth Defects in Baby?
- New Techniques May Improve Infant Heart Surgery
- When Mom-to-Be's Overweight and Smokes, Risk for Birth Defects Rises
- Blood Oxygen Test Finds Heart Defects in Newborns
- Opioid Painkillers Linked to Birth Defects
- Birth Defects Linked to Valproic Acid