Find over 200 print-friendly fact sheets about heart disease and related health topics.
Find answers to frequently asked questions about a variety of health conditions, like heart attack, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation.
“Congenital” means present from birth. So, congenital heart defects refers to a number of different conditions that can occur when a baby’s heart is forming or at birth. As a result, the heart—or the major vessels in and around the heart—may not develop or work the way they should.
Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect. Roughly 8 of every 1,000 babies are born with some sort of structural defect in their hearts. These problems cause more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defects. Some examples are atrial septal defect, coarctation of the aorta, and aortic stenosis.
But, there is good news. More babies are surviving than ever before thanks to advances in treating and correcting many of these problems. Although most defects are found during pregnancy by ultrasound or in early childhood, some defects aren’t discovered until adulthood. About 1 million adults are living with congenital heart disease.
Aortic valve stenosis is a slow process. For many years, even decades, you will not feel any symptoms. But at some point, the valve will likely become so narrow (often one-fourth of its normal size) that you start having problems. Symptoms are often brought on by exercise, when the heart has to work harder.
As aortic valve stenosis gets worse, you may have symptoms such as:
If you start to notice any of these symptoms, let your doctor know right away. If you have symptoms, you need treatment. By the time you have symptoms, your condition probably is serious. If you have symptoms, you also have a high risk of sudden death.
Keeping blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible can help prevent or slow the progress of many complications of diabetes. To get tight control, you should pay attention to diet and exercise, keep close track of blood glucose levels, and if you take insulin, closely manage your injection schedule.
The left bundle branch is the conduction system of the main pumping chambers of the heart (right and left ventricles) and is composed of the left posterior and left anterior fascicles or divisions. Left anterior fascicular block (LAFB) forces all the electrical conduction down the left posterior fascicle. Historically, the presence of LAFB was considered a benign finding but recent research in patients greater than 65 years old revealed that LAFB may slightly increase a patient’s risk of atrial fibrillation, heart attack, and death.  Follow-up in this study was over 15 years and only 2 of 1,664 patients in this series required a pacemaker.
The presence of LAFB merits a thorough clinical evaluation for any underlying heart disease. Once this evaluation is completed, an asymptomatic patient should undergo routine clinical evaluations to ensure there has been no development or progression of underlying heart disease.
Jeffrey L. Williams, MD, MS, FACC, FHRS
Do you have a doctor? If you do not, I would recommend you establish a new patient visit with an internal medicine or a family medicine physician for physical examination and evaluation. Sometimes this can take several visits, as he or she may order lab work, EKG and other diagnostic testing depending on your history and physical exam. In the meantime, I would recommend that you avoid strenuous physical activity, scuba diving, caffeine, and energy drinks.
Puja Mehta, MD, FACC
Your questions are answered by more than two dozen members of the American College of Cardiology who volunteer their time with CardioSmart.
Learn more about our volunteers