Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital Heart Disease

What is it?

Congenital heart diseases are defects in one or more of the structures of the heart and major blood vessels that occur at various stages of fetal development. Symptoms may occur at birth, during childhood, and sometimes not until adulthood.

Causes, Symptoms and Risk Factors

Congenital heart disorders may be genetic or abnormal chromosomes may cause severe heart defects. They may result from an illness of the mother, such as diabetes or rubella, medications taken by the mother, exposure to certain drugs or alcohol, fetal alcohol syndrome or combinations of all of these. Additionally, the child has a higher risk of having congenital heart disease if a parent or sibling has a congenital heart defect.

Symptoms of a congenital heart disorder include:

  • Heart murmurs (abnormal beating of the heart)
  • Shortness of breath or a rapid heartbeat
  • "Blue baby" syndrome (skin turns bluish from lack of oxygen)
  • Clubfoot or the enlargement of the fingers and toes with an overhanging nail
  • An abnormal increase of circulating red blood cells
  • Enlargement of the liver
  • A pulse that is hard to hear or no pulse
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Signs of organ failure, including low urine output or kidney failure
  • Enlargement of the chambers of the heart

Our Services (Tests, Procedures and Treatments)

Diagnostic testing and procedures are the first step in establishing a treatment strategy. A doctor may order tests or perform the following procedures:

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, procedures, or surgery. Adults and children with congenital heart disease should be monitored by a heart specialist and take precautions to prevent an infection of the heart valves throughout their lives.

St. Luke's Heart & Vascular