Congenital Heart Disease

congenital heart disease 537016989Congenital heart diseases (congenital heart defects) are abnormalities in the structure of the heart that are present at birth.  They are the most common type of birth defect and affect eight out of every 1,000 newborns in the United States.

Congenital defects can involve abnormalities of the muscle, valves or interior walls of the heart as well as defects in the arteries or veins that transport blood to the heart.  Defects can be simple, where the child exhibits no symptoms (some may experience symptoms later on in adulthood) or complex resulting in serious complications or death.   Serious defects are often diagnosed while the baby is still in the womb or soon after birth.

There are many types of congenital heart diseases and they sometimes occur simultaneously. Some of the more common defects are:

  • Coarctation of the aorta
  • Pulmonary valve stenosis
  • Transposition of the great arteries
  • Septal defects

Symptoms of congenital heart defects may include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Bluish tint to skin, fingernails and lips(cyanosis)
  • Poor weight gain
  • Recurring lung infections

The causes of congenital heart defects are unknown; however, the disorder tends to run in families. Other factors that are believed to be contributors are a pregnant woman’s use of certain medications, alcohol or illegal drugs as well as viral infections such as rubella or poorly controlled diabetes during gestation.

Once diagnosed, treatment will vary depending on the severity of the defect. Some may not require treatment, as their condition can improve on its own while others may require medication, surgery or other interventional procedures. Most people born with serious heart defects will continue to need monitoring by a heart specialist and treatment throughout their lifetime.

The Pediatric Cardiology Division at Jamaica Hospital is a comprehensive service that diagnoses, manages, and provides long-term care to infants, children, and adolescents with congenital or acquired heart disease. Appointments for the Pediatric Cardiologist can be scheduled by calling 718-206-7591.


All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.