Congenital heart disease is a type of defect in one or more structures of the heart or blood vessels that occur before birth. The heart structures, or vessels, do not form as they should during pregnancy, while the fetus is developing in the uterus.

In the United States:

  • They affect about 8 to 10 out of every 1,000 children. Congenital heart defects may produce symptoms at birth, during childhood and sometimes not until adulthood.
  • 800,000 adults in the United States have grown into adulthood with congenital heart disease. This number increases by about 20,000 each year.
  • Adult congenital heart disease is not uncommon. 1 in 150 adults are expected to have some form of congenital heart disease.
  • Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics–2017 Update

The most common congenital heart disorders affecting adults are:

Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart defects may be diagnosed before birth, right after birth, during childhood or not until adulthood. It is possible to have a defect and no symptoms at all. In adults, if symptoms of congenital heart disease are present, they may include:

  • shortness of breath
  • poor exercise tolerance

Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

References

  • Darst JR, Collins KK, Miyamoto SDCardiovascular Diseases. In: Hay WW, Jr., Levin MJ, Deterding RR, Abzug MJ. eds. CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics, 22e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2013.
  • American Heart Association. About Congenital Heart Defects* Accessed 3/12/2015.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facts about Congenital Heart Defects* Accessed 3/12/2015.
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What are Congenital Heart Defects?* Accessed 3/12/2015.
  • Hirsh JC, Devaney EJ, Ohye RG, Bove EL. Chapter 19B. The Heart: II. Congenital Heart Disease. In: Doherty GM. eds. CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment: Surgery, 13e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2010.

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