Congenital Heart Defects

I am determined not to let my heart disease limit me.

Deborah, living with congenital heart disease

On my next visit to the doctor, I want to be prepared.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

I'm willing to try a new treatment or medication.

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 disease is the most common type of birth defect. Nearly 1 out of 100 babies are born with some sort of structural heart defect, affecting about 40,000 infants a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These problems cause more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defects. Some examples of congenital heart disease are atrial septal defect, coarctation of the aorta, and aortic stenosis.

But, there is good news. More babies are surviving thanks to advances in treating many of these problems. Although most defects are found during pregnancy by ultrasound or in early childhood, some defects aren’t discovered until adulthood. More than 1 million adults in the United States are living with congenital heart disease today. 

If you or your child have a heart defect, it can be very scary. But there are a number of treatment options depending on the type of defect and the symptoms. It’s important to find a cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart defects and get support. Use this condition center to learn more about congenital heart defects. You can also chat online with others like you and keep up with the latest research.

Congenital Heart Defects News & Events

Top CardioSmart News Articles of 2018

Dec 13, 2018

This year's most read patient summaries worth a second look.

Children Should Avoid Diet Drinks, Advise Experts

Aug 15, 2018

Experts can’t say with certainty that artificially sweetened drinks are safe, based on a recent advisory from the American Heart Association.

Health Literacy is Critical to Heart Disease Prevention

Jun 29, 2018
An American Heart Association statement addresses health literacy as a barrier to heart health. 

Loneliness is Bad for the Heart

Jun 29, 2018
A lack of social support is linked to poorer health outcomes in heart patients.

Prevention and Treatment of Cardiac Arrest in Children with Heart Disease

May 16, 2018

The American Heart Association issues a statement addressing the importance of preventing cardiac arrest in infants and children with congenital heart defects.

CardioSmart News

Study Supports Closure Procedure for Stroke Patients with a Hole in the Heart

Mar 25, 2018

Minimally-invasive procedure improves outcomes for stroke patients with patent foramen ovale.

Repeat Imaging is Linked to Increased Cancer Risk in Adults with Congenital Heart Disease

Jan 22, 2018

Researchers explore why those born with heart defects tend to have double the cancer risk than other adults do.

Surgery Proves to be Life-Saving for People Born with a Hole in the Heart

Dec 21, 2017
Corrective surgery reduces mortality risk, especially when performed earlier in life. 

Moderate Exercise Reduces Risk of Death in Women

Dec 14, 2017
A study of more than 17,000 women links physical activity to a longer, healthier life.

Medication Adherence Remains Challenging for Heart Patients

Dec 12, 2017
Taking medication as directed is critical to improving outcomes.
I am CardioSmart

Enter the "I am CardioSmart" Contest

Oct 31, 2017

Tell us how you are living well with heart disease for a chance to win a $100 gift card!

A Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Helps Keep the Mind Intact

Oct 16, 2017
Experts provide simple yet effective strategies for protecting cognitive health as we age.

New Guidelines Fine-Tune Heart Screenings in Young Athletes

Aug 17, 2017
Refined testing would save health care costs while still detecting serious heart conditions.

Too Much Salt Puts Added Stress on Heart

Aug 17, 2017
A recent study confirms that consuming more than 3,700 mg of sodium daily taxes the heart.

Living With Congenital Heart Disease

Feb 27, 2017
Join us for a live program to learn about congenital heart disease and resources to help you or a loved one manage the condition.

Study Helps Identify High-Risk Patients with a Complication from Congenital Heart Defects

Jan 27, 2017

Experts hope these findings will help improve outcomes for patients with Eisenmenger syndrome.

Enter the "I am CardioSmart" Contest

Oct 17, 2016

Tell us how you are living well with heart disease for a chance to win a trip for two to Washington, D.C., in March 2017!

ACC Partners with Google to Share Reliable Heart Health Information

Sep 20, 2016
“Ask a Doctor” feature promotes patient-provider engagement.

The Importance of Promoting Heart Health in Children

Sep 17, 2016
Experts highlight early education about heart health for prevention later in life.

Surgery Becoming Safer, More Effective for Children with Congenital Heart Defects

Aug 27, 2016
Analysis of Finnish registries shows significant improvement in survival rates for children undergoing surgery for heart defects.

Survival Rates Improving for Patients with Down Syndrome and Congenital Heart Defects

Aug 01, 2016
Early surgical treatment—which has become more common over the last six decades—improves outcomes.
CardioSmart News

Virtual Health Programs Could Improve Global Health

May 22, 2016
An online challenge promotes physical activity and weight loss in over 60 countries.

Heart Disease Burden Has Shifted to Southern U.S. States

May 04, 2016

The highest death rates from heart disease have shifted to the South since the 1970s.

Decline in Dementia Rates Over Past Three Decades

Mar 08, 2016

Study analyzed data on trends in older adults in the Framingham Heart Study.

Texting Programs Improve Medication Adherence in Patients with Chronic Disease

Feb 26, 2016
A recent study suggests that text messaging programs double the odds of medication adherence in adults with chronic disease.

Infographic: Congenital Heart Defects

Patient Resource