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Congenital heart disease is a heart condition where the structure of the heart and vessels do not form correctly during fetal development in the uterus. Defects can form in the walls of the heart, heart valves, and arteries and veins leading to the heart. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 35,000 babies are born with a defect each year. Some congenital heart disease conditions can be acquired during childhood development from infections or other diseases.


Congenital (at birth)

  • Atrial Septal Defects (ASD) – a defect (hole) between the heart's two upper chambers (the atria) that causes oxygen-rich blood to leak from the left side to the right side of the heart to be pumped back into the lungs.
  • Aortic Valve Stenosis and Insufficiency – abnormalities of the aortic valves, normally present at birth, typically where the tricuspid is missing a cusp and a bicuspid forms.
  • Coarctation of the Aorta – a narrowing of the aorta between the upper-body artery branches and the branches to the lower body.
  • Complete Atrioventricular Canal (CAVC) – a combination of an atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, and abnormalities of the tricuspid and mitral valves.
  • Ebstein's Anomaly – abnormalities of the tricuspid valve where one or more of the leadlets are attached to the heart wall and do not move normally. Often, atrial septal defects are also present.
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus – occurs when the blood vessel, called ductus arteriosus that joins the pulmonary artery to the aorta, fails to close after birth.
  • Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) – occurs when the blood vessel, called foramen ovale that joins the left and right atria, fails to close after birth.
  • Pulmonary Valve Stenosis – abnormalities of the pulmonary valve causing narrowing and leaking in the valve.
  • Single-Ventricle Defects – complex heart defects resulting from an underdeveloped ventricle.
  • Tetralogy of Fallot – a combination of ventricular septal defect, pulmonary valve stenosis, and right ventricle hypertrophy where the right ventricle is thicker than normal.
  • Transposition of the Great Arteries – a condition in which the pulmonary artery and aorta have developed in reverse.
  • Truncus Arteriosus – an abnormality where one large blood vessel has developed instead of a separate pulmonary artery and aorta.
  • Ventricular Septal Defects – a defect (hole) between the heart's two lower chambers (the ventricle) that causes oxygen-rich blood to leak from the left side to the right side of the heart to be pumped back into the lungs.

Acquired (developed in childhood)

  • Infective Endocarditis – an infection of the lining of the heart's chambers (called the endocardium) or the heart's valves.
  • Kawasaki Disease – long-term heart complications can result from Kawasaki Disease. Occurs primarily in children who are five or younger.
  • Rheumatic Fever – an inflammatory disease that can develop during strep throat, occurring in five- to 15-year-old children. Rheumatic fever can cause damage to the heart valves.


Symptoms or signs of congenital heart disease can occur at birth, during childhood development. Sometimes the symptoms can be suppressed until adulthood, or not appear at all. Congenital heart disease symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing.
  • Fatigue, limited ability to exercise.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Recurring lung infections.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consult a MemorialCare Physician partner.

Locations Treating Congenital Heart Disease