Congenital Heart Defects


What treatment your child might receive depends on several factors. For example:

  • type of heart defect
  • how severe it is
  • your child’s age 
  • his or her general health

Your child’s heart team should talk with you about treatment options and what to expect. Always share any concerns and what matters most to you.

Treatment may include a combination of:

  • Medications to help the heart work better, lower blood pressure or cholesterol and manage symptoms until the heart defect is repaired.
  • Cardiac catheterization to look for or fix the problem (for example, to repair a hole or place a new valve). In this procedure, a long, thin, flexible tube is threaded through a blood vessel into the heart and gives doctors access to the heart.
  • Devices that are placed or implanted in the heart to control heart rate or address life-threatening heart rhythms. 
  • Open heart surgery to repair the heart or help improve blood flow by widening arteries or closing blood vessels.
  • Heart transplant, in rare cases.
  • Self-care at home and ongoing follow-up for the condition. 

light bulb Remember, even if your child has a surgery to fix a heart defect, he or she may need more procedures down the line.

Having congenital heart disease also means you are more likely to develop other heart issues later in life. That’s why you or your child needs ongoing care by a doctor who has special training in congenital heart disease. For example, they can help you and your child navigate issues such as:
  • Understanding, preventing and monitoring heart problems that can develop as you age — issues with how your heart beats (arrhythmia), an enlarged heart, leaky or narrowing heart valves, heart failure, heart infections, pulmonary hypertension
  • Pregnancy/birth control/sexuality
  • Stress and coping
  • Psychosocial issues

< Back to Exams and Tests Living With Congenital Heart Defects >

Published: August 2017
Medical Reviewers: Elisa Bradley, MD, FACC; Tabitha G. Moe, MD, FACC

Infographic: Congenital Heart Defects

Patient Resource

CardioSmart Benefits

  • Sign up for personalized newsletters
  • Find fact sheets and helpful information
  • Get discussion guides for you and your doctor