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A structural or functional issue with the heart that occurs from birth is known as congenital heart disease (CHD). The defect can affect the heart walls, heart valves or the blood vessels in the heart. There are several types of congenital heart diseases varying from simple conditions that do not cause any symptoms to severe conditions that may even cause life-threatening symptoms.

Considering a birth prevalence of congenital heart disease of 9/1000, the estimated number of children born with congenital heart disease in India is more than 200,000 per year. Of these, approximately one-fifth are likely to have serious defects, requiring an intervention during the first year of life.

Nowadays, almost all children with heart abnormalities survive into adulthood because of significant advancements in treatment and follow-up care for problems over the previous few decades. Some people require lifelong treatment for their cardiac defects. Many, however, manage to lead active and productive lives despite their illness.

What Is Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)?

A congenital heart disease is a functional or structural abnormality or defect in the heart present from birth. This includes a hole in your heart, issues with blood vessels that cause blood to flow in opposite directions or too much or too little blood passing in circulation, and problems with the heart valve which controls the blood flow.

What Are The Types Of Congenital Heart Diseases?

The following are the main groups of congenital heart diseases:

Cyanotic Congenital Heart Diseases:

Cyanotic heart diseases are a condition in which the heart does not function normally due to reduced oxygen levels in blood. These heart defects reduce the amount of oxygen your heart can deliver to the rest of your body. Usually, babies born with cyanotic congenital heart disease often have low levels of oxygen and require surgery. This includes:

  • Left heart obstructive lesions: These lower systemic circulation (the blood flow between the heart and the rest of the body. The conditions include hypoplastic left heart syndrome (happens when your heart is too small on the left side), and interrupted aortic arch (incomplete aorta)
  • Right heart obstructive lesions: These lower the pulmonary blood flow (blood supply between the heart and the lungs). Examples include tetralogy of Fallot (a group of four anomalies), Ebstein’s anomaly, pulmonary atresia, and tricuspid atresia (valves do not develop correctly)
  • Mixing lesions: The body mixes systemic and pulmonary blood flow. The conditions include transposition of the great arteries, truncus arteriosus (a condition in which the heart has only one main artery to carry blood to your body parts instead of two arteries)

Acyanotic Congenital Heart Disease:

Acyanotic heart disease is a type of congenital heart defect which causes abnormal blood flow. These defects do not interfere with the amount of oxygen or blood given to the rest of the body. It may range from mild to severe. Babies with the condition might seem out of breath and fatigued. 

The acyanotic congenital heart diseases include a hole in the heart, problems in the aorta, and the problems associated with the pulmonary artery. The examples include

What Are The Symptoms Of Congenital Heart Diseases?

The signs and symptoms experienced vary in each patient depending upon their age, number of heart issues, severity of the condition, and the type of congenital condition. The following are the general symptoms of congenital heart disease:

How To Diagnose Congenital Heart Diseases?

Healthcare providers can diagnose congenital heart disease before the baby is born during a routine prenatal ultrasound screening. If they find any abnormalities, they may refer you to perform a fetal echogram to generate pictures of the fetal heart. Once the baby is born, doctors can detect the heart disease using pulse oximetry. Low oxygen levels in pulse oximetry indicate chances for cyanotic heart disease.

The following are the diagnostic methods done to detect congenital heart disease:

  • Physical examination: The doctor will use a stethoscope to check for a heart murmur or abnormal heartbeats
  • Chest X-ray: It helps doctors to visualize the structures inside the chest to reveal structural abnormalities
  • Electrocardiogram: It helps to detect the electrical activity of the heart
  • Echocardiogram: It uses ultrasound waves to create images of the heart’s valves and chambers
  • Heart catheterisation: It is also known as coronary angiography helps doctors to check how the heart is pumping and circulating blood
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): It helps to create detailed structural pictures of the heart

How To Treat Congenital Heart Diseases?

The following are the treatment options for managing congenital heart diseases:

  • Medications to improve heart functioning and to control blood pressure
  • A catheter procedure to insert a plug into a defect
  • Non-surgical methods using devices to fix an issue
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Surgery to repair the hole, blood vessel damage or a valve defect, some severe cases require heart transplantation

What are the Complications of Congenital Heart Disease?

The following are the complications of congenital heart disease:


A structural or functional issue with the heart that occurs from birth is known as congenital heart disease (CHD). The treatment for congenital heart disease in adults varies in people depending on the severity of the heart defect. Some people may only need to monitor their condition closely, and others may require medications and surgeries.  Regardless of your situation, it is essential to continue visiting your cardiologist for follow-up care. Though treatment might not cure your illness, it may assist you in maintaining an active and productive life. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Do all types of congenital heart disease need surgery? 

A: Treatment for congenital heart disease depends on the type and severity of the defect present. Some conditions that do not cause any symptoms do not require any treatment while some conditions need one or more surgeries to repair the heart or blood vessels.

Q: What makes CHD potentially fatal?

A: Congenital heart disease can cause serious complications like stroke,  pulmonary hypertension, and high blood pressure which makes the condition potentially fatal.

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