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 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. 

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

Growing Need for Heart Transplants in Adults with Congenital Heart Disease

Feb 11, 2016

Experts highlight the challenges faced by this population when it comes to receiving advanced therapies.

Heart Failure Remains a Major Challenge for Those with Congenital Heart Disease

Feb 02, 2016
People born with heart defects are living longer than ever, but heart failure remains a serious concern.

Too Little Exercise Remains a Prime Concern for Americans

Jan 18, 2016
Experts reaffirm that health benefits from exercise far outweigh risks.

Heart Disease Remains Top Killer in the United States

Jan 10, 2016

Heart disease accounts for 1 in 3 deaths, highlighting an urgent need for prevention and treatment.

Stroke Risk High Among Young Adults with Congenital Heart Disease

Dec 09, 2015
Having a heart defect at birth also means up to 12 times higher risk of stroke than the general population.

Declines in U.S. Death Rates Have Slowed

Nov 19, 2015
Researchers measure progress on heart disease and other leading causes of death, and identify areas for improvement.

Low-Fat Diets Not the Best Weight Loss Solution

Nov 19, 2015

A review of more than 50 clinical trials comparing low- versus higher-fat diets shows no significant difference in weight loss results.

African-American Veterans Healthier Than White Counterparts

Oct 22, 2015

Analysis of VA data stands in contrast to health disparities in the general U.S. population.

Music Boosts Heart Health

Oct 13, 2015
Music’s effect on heart activity, blood pressure and breathing bodes well for health.

A Healthy Lifestyle in Midlife Makes for Healthier Golden Years

Oct 13, 2015

The benefits of healthy choices carry long into older adulthood.

Risk of Sudden Death Very Low in Children Born with Heart Defects

Oct 06, 2015
Sudden cardiac death is very rare in children with heart defects and rarely occurs during physical activity.

Enter the "I am CardioSmart" Contest

Oct 05, 2015

Tell us how you are living well with heart disease for a chance to win a trip for two to Chicago in April 2016!

Longer, But Not Necessarily Healthier, Lives

Sep 25, 2015
While life expectancy continues to rise, heart disease becomes the leading cause of disability around the world.

Deep Belly Fat Increases Cardiovascular Risk

Sep 18, 2015
Study finds that both volume and type of belly fat have an impact on heart health.

Age and Gender Differences in Heart Disease Mortality Rates

Sep 17, 2015
Despite recent drops in cardiovascular mortality rates, death toll among young adults remains high.

Economic and Social Forces Have Big Impact on Heart Health

Aug 21, 2015
The American Heart Association has issued a scientific statement addressing social factors that influence risk for heart disease.

Careful Planning is Key to Safe Pregnancy for Women with Congenital Heart Disease

Jul 13, 2015

For women with congenital heart disease, meeting with specialists, risk assessment and counseling are essential when considering pregnancy.

Chocolate Protects Against Heart Disease and Stroke

Jul 01, 2015
Moderate chocolate consumption helps, not harms, cardiovascular health.

Action, Not Advice, Helps Smokers Quit

Jun 25, 2015
Creating a quit plan and providing tools for ongoing support is more effective than education alone in helping smokers quit.

Cash Incentives Help Smokers Quit

Jun 03, 2015
Rewards-based programs are much more appealing than deposit-based programs, which require smokers to risk their own money.

Mediterranean Diet Improves Memory and Brain Function

May 26, 2015
A diet rich in olive oil and nuts may improve brain function and reduce risk for dementia.

Few Women with Heart Disease Counseled on Birth Control Methods

May 14, 2015
A review of research on this topic finds gaps in care and stresses early education for girls.

A National Plan to Get America Moving

May 11, 2015

Proposed changes to our physical and social environments encourage regular physical activity for Americans throughout the course of the day.

Those Born with Heart Defects Living Longer, Healthier Lives

May 02, 2015
A recent scientific statement highlights the importance of managing heart defects in older adults.

Sports May Be Safe for Children with Long QT Syndrome

Apr 24, 2015
Contrary to current guidelines, exercise may not be problematic for children with this congenital heart condition.

Upcoming Events

Managing Heart Failure: A Program for Patients and Caregivers in Chicago

Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Feinberg Conference Room A
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Apr 01, 2016, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM