Congenital Heart Defects

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Congenital Heart Defects
With new advances in testing and treatment, most children with congenital heart defects grow into adulthood and can live healthy, productive lives. Some need special care all though their lives to maintain a good quality of life.
Treatment depends on the type and severity of the defect.
Doctors treat congenital heart defects with catheter procedures and surgery.
An echocardiogram is an important test for both diagnosing a heart problem and following the problem over time. This test helps diagnose problems with how the heart is formed and how well it’s working. Other tests include EKG (electrocardiogram), chest x ray, pulse oximetry, and cardiac catheterization.
Serious heart defects are usually diagnosed while a baby is still in the womb or soon after birth. Some defects aren’t diagnosed until later in childhood, or even in adulthood.
Although many heart defects have few or no symptoms, some do. Severe defects can cause symptoms such as:
Doctors don’t know what causes most congenital heart defects. Heredity may play a role.
There are many types of congenital heart defects ranging from simple to very complex.
Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect, affecting 8 out of every 1,000 newborns. Each year, more than 35,000 babies in the United States are born with congenital heart defects.
Congenital heart defects are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. Congenital heart defects change the normal flow of blood through the heart.
Poor blood circulation.
Fatigue (tiredness).
A bluish tint to skin, lips, and fingernails. This is called cyanosis.
Rapid breathing.
Source: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health.

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