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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Congenital Heart Disease
      Category : Health Centers > Heart Diseases

Congenital Heart Disease

Alternate Names : Congenital Heart Defects

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Congenital heart disease, also known as CHD, is any birth defect which affects the heart or the large blood vessels. Congenital means that the defect is present at birth.

What is going on in the body?

There are many different birth defects that can affect the heart. For example, the valves of the heart may be missing or not work properly. In other cases, there may be holes in the walls of the heart or abnormal connections between blood vessels and the heart. The defects may be mild and cause no problems. Or they may be life threatening and require surgery hours after birth. Some common congenital heart defects include:

  • atrial septal defect, which is an abnormal opening between the two upper chambers of the heart
  • ventricular septal defect, which is an abnormal opening between the two lower chambers of the heart
  • tetralogy of Fallot, which is a set of four typical heart abnormalities
  • coarctation of the aorta, which is a narrowing of the aorta
  • pulmonary atresia, which is an abnormality of the opening between the heart and the arteries to the lungs
  • patent ductus arteriosus, which is an abnormal opening between the aorta and the artery to the lung
  • transposition of the great vessels, which is a switch in the normal positions of the aorta and the artery to the lung
  • What are the causes and risks of the disease?

    Many times the cause of CHD is unknown. Known causes of CHD include:

  • alcohol and drug abuse by a mother during pregnancy
  • certain medicines used by a mother during pregnancy such as those used to treat seizures
  • diseases affecting the mother, such as diabetes
  • genetic, inherited, or chromosomal defects such as those that occur with Down syndrome
  • viral infections of the fetus during pregnancy, especially rubella


    Next section


    Congenital Heart Disease: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eric Berlin, MD
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 07/24/01

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