Heart Disease: Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Overview

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 and Causes

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

Diagnosis and Tests

Diagnosis of Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease is diagnosed by a murmur on a physical exam and several diagnostic tests:

Management and Treatment

Treatment of Congenital Heart Disease

Treatment is based on the severity of the congenital heart disease. Some mild heart defects do not require any treatment.Others can be treated with medications, invasive procedures or surgery. Most adults with congenital heart disease should be monitored by a congenital heart specialist and may need to take precautions to prevent endocarditis (an infection of the heart) throughout their life.

Surgical Treatment Options

Resources

How to find a doctor if you have adult congenital heart disease

Doctors vary in quality due to differences in training and experience; hospitals differ in the number of services available. The more complex your medical problem, the greater these differences in quality become and the more they matter.

Clearly, the doctor and hospital that you choose for complex, specialized medical care will have a direct impact on how well you do. To help you make this choice, read more about our Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute outcomes.

The Center for Adult Congenital Heart Disease in the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute is a specialized center involving a multi-disciplinary group of specialists, including cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and nurses from Cardiovascular Medicine, Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Diagnostic Radiology, Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, and Transplantation Center, who provide a comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating adult congenital heart disease.

Learn more about specialized teams of doctors who treat congenital heart disease.

You may also use our MyConsult second opinion consultation using the Internet.

For younger patients with congenital heart disease:

See About Us to learn more about the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute.

Contact

If you need more information,click here to contact us, chat online with a nurse or call the Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Resource & Information Nurse at 216.445.9288 or toll-free at 866.289.6911. We would be happy to help you.

Becoming a Patient

Treatment Options

Treatment Guides

Diagnostic Tests

Congenital heart disease is diagnosed by a murmur on a physical exam and several diagnostic tests:

Anatomy

Webchats

Our webchats and video chats give patients and visitors another opportunity to ask questions and interact with our physicians.

Videos

Interactive Tools

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Why choose Cleveland Clinic for your care?

Our outcomes speak for themselves. Please review our facts and figures and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

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* (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/About-Congenital-Heart-Defects_UCM_001217_Article.jsp) Accessed 3/12/2015.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facts about Congenital Heart Defects* (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/heartdefects/facts.html) Accessed 3/12/2015.
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What are Congenital Heart Defects?* (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/chd/) 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.

*A new browser window will open with this link. The inclusion of links to other websites does not imply any endorsement of the material on those websites nor any association with their operators.

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