What are Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs)?

  • Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth
  • CHDs can affect how blood flows through the heart and out to the rest of the body
  • CHDs can vary from small holes inside the walls of the heart to more severe forms where blood vessels or heart chambers may be missing, poorly formed and/or in the wrong place

How common are congenital heart defects?

  • CHD’s are the most common birth defect occurring in almost 1% of births
  • An approximate 100-200 deaths are due to unrecognized heart defects in newborns each year. These numbers exclude those dying before diagnosis.
  • Nearly 40,000 infants in the U.S. are born each year with CHDs
  • CHDs are as common as autism and about twenty-five times more common than cystic fibrosis
  • Approximately two to three million individuals are thought to be living in the United States with CHDs. Because there is no U.S. system to track CHDs beyond early childhood, more precise estimates are not available.

What is the health impact of congenital heart defects?

  • CHDs are the most common cause of infant death due to birth defects
  • Approximately 25% of children born with a CHD will need heart surgery or other interventions to survive
  • Over 85% of babies born with a CHD now live to at least age 18. However, children born with more severe forms of CHDs are less likely to reach adulthood
  • Surgery is not a cure for CHDs. Many individuals with CHDs require additional operation(s) and/or medication as adults.
  • People with CHDs face a life-long risk of health problems such as issues with growth and eating, developmental delays, difficulty with exercise, heart rhythm problems, heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest or stroke

What causes congenital heart defects?

  • Most causes of CHDs are unknown. Only 15-20% of all CHDs are related to known genetic conditions
  • Most CHDs are thought to be caused by a combination of genes and other risk factors

Types of congenital heart defects

Listed below are examples of different types of CHDs. The types marked with a star (*) are considered critical CHDs.

  • Atrial Septal Defect
  • Atrioventricular Septal Defect
  • Coarctation of the Aorta*
  • Double-outlet Right Ventricle*
  • D-Transposition of the Great Arteries*
  • Ebstein Anomaly*
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome*
  • Interrupted Aortic Arch*
  • Pulmonary Atresia*
  • Single Ventricle*
  • Tetralogy of Fallot*
  • Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return*
  • Tricuspid Atresia*
  • Truncus Arteriosus*
  • Ventricular Septal Defect

Source: mendedlittlehearts.org