Congenital microcardia, Congenital hypoplasia of heart (disorder), Congenital small heart,congenital heart disease, congenital microcardia, congenital hypoplasia of heart, congenital small heart,

Congenital heart disease is a general term for a range of birth defects that affect the normal workings of the heart.

The term "congenital" means the condition is present at birth.

Congenital heart disease is one of the most common types of birth defect,affecting up to 9in every1,000 babies born in the UK.

Why it happens

In most cases, no obvious cause of congenital heart disease is identified. However, some things are known to increase the risk ofthe condition, including:

  • Trisomy 21 a genetic disorder that affects a baby's normal physical development and causes learning difficulties
  • the mother having certaininfections, such as rubella , during pregnancy
  • the mother having poorly controlled type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes
  • other chromosome defects, where genes may be altered from normal and can be inherited

However, it's not always possible to detect congenital heart defects in this way.

Signs and symptoms

Congenital heart disease can have a number of symptoms, including:

  • rapid heartbeat
  • rapid breathing
  • excessive sweating
  • extreme tiredness and fatigue
  • a blue tinge to the skin (cyanosis)
  • tiredness and rapid breathing when a baby isfeeding

These problems aresometimes noticeable soon after birth, although mild defects may not cause any problems until later in life.

Some of the more common defects include:

  • septal defects where there's a hole between two of the heart's chambers (commonly referred to as a "hole in the heart")
  • coarctation of the aorta where the main large artery of the body, called the aorta, is narrower than normal
  • pulmonary valve stenosis where the pulmonary valve, which controls the flow of blood out of the lower right chamber of the heart to the lungs, is narrower than normal
  • transposition of the great arteries where the pulmonary and aortic valves and the arteries they're connected to have swapped positions

Modern surgical techniques can often restore most or all of the heart's normalfunction, and nowadays about 80% of children with congenital heart disease will survive into adulthood.

However, people with congenital heart disease often need treatment throughout their life and therefore require specialist review during childhood and adulthood.This is because people with complex heart problems can develop further problems with their heart rhythm or valves over time.

Most surgery and interventional procedures aren't considered to be acure. The affected person's ability to exercisemay be limited, which can progress over time and may lead to the need for further surgery or intervention.

Some people with more complex congenital heart disease may not have a normal life span. It's important that a person with heart disease and their parents or carers discuss these issues with their specialist medical team.


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Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 9 Jan 2017