Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates

Congenital Heart Defects

» What are congenital heart defects?
» What causes congenital heart defects?
» What are the symptoms of congenital heart defects?
» How are congenital heart defects diagnosed?
» How are congenital heart defects treated?

What are congenital heart defects?

Congenital heart defects are problems in the heart's structure that are present at birth. These defects can involve the heart's interior walls, its valves, or the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart or to the rest of the body. There are many different kinds of congenital heart defects, ranging from those that cause no symptoms to those that lead to life-threatening conditions.

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What causes congenital heart defects?

Physicians are not entirely certain what causes congenital heart defects, although some are connected with genetic traits and others can be caused by smoking during pregnancy.

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What are the symptoms of congenital heart defects?

Many congenital heart defects produce no noticeable symptoms, while others may cause:

  • Rapid breathing
  • A bluish tint to the skin and fingernails (cyanosis)
  • Fatigue
  • Poor blood circulation

Some defects can cause the heart to work harder than it should, which can lead to symptoms of heart failure.

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How are congenital heart defects diagnosed?

More severe congenital heart defects can be diagnosed during pregnancy or just after birth, while minor defects are often diagnosed when a child is older. Diagnosing congenital heart defects in children usually involves a physical exam to check for symptoms, which may be followed by one or more diagnostic tests:

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How are congenital heart defects treated?

While many congenital heart defects require no treatment, others will need to be repaired through a catheter-based procedure or open surgery. The procedure needed will depend on the nature of the heart defect.

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Our Team

As part of Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates, our congenital heart disease specialists provide care for adults with congenital heart disease. Thanks to recent advances, many complications of adult congenital heart disease can now be treated by minimally invasive techniques rather than open heart surgery. Our physicians have undergone specialized training in these transcatheter interventions, from valve implantation, septal defect closure, angioplasty and stenting, to arrhythmia treatment.

For more information about Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates or to make an appointment, please call us at 713-441-1100 or 888-361-4375, or contact us online.