Diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-failure/edema-overview#1A congenital heart defect is a structural defect of the heart present at birth, which is the most common type of birth defect in the United States. There are many types of congenital heart defects, including those that affect the walls of the heart, heart valves, heart muscle, or the arteries and veins near the heart. 

Heart valve defects can restrict the flow of blood through the heart or allow blood to leak backwards if the valve does not shut properly. A hole in the wall of the heart can allow blood from different chambers to mix when it shouldn’t. A problem with the heart muscle means the heart can’t pump blood efficiently through the body. 


Symptoms in newborns may include rapid breathing, fatigue, poor blood circulation, or a bluish tint to the skin, lips, and fingernails. Child and adult symptoms may include an abnormal heart rhythm, shortness of breath, tiring quickly after exertion, swelling of tissues and organs (edema), or a bluish tint to the to the skin, lips, or fingernails.


Severe heart defects are often diagnosed during pregnancy or shortly after birth. People with less severe heart defects may not be diagnosed until older, even into adulthood for many people. Diagnostic tests may include an electrocardiogram (EKG) to assess your heart rhythm, chest x-ray, or an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart). In some cases, additional tests such as an MRI or CT scan may be required.


For severe defects at birth, treatment may include medication, a catheter procedure, surgery, or even a heart transplant. Treatment options for adults with congenital heart defects are similar, although some congenital heart defects do not require any treatment.

People with congenital heart defects have a higher risk of endocarditis, or inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, especially if they underwent surgery to repair their heart defect. If you have congenital heart disease, tell your doctors and dentist about your condition and call your doctor if you notice any signs of infection. 

Prior to a medical or dental procedure that may cause bleeding, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to lessen the chance of an infection that could impact your heart. 

If you have symptoms of a congenital heart defect as an adult or have been previously diagnosed and need a specialist, contact the Oklahoma Heart Hospital today.