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Congenital Heart Disease

When the heart or blood vessels near the heart do not develop normally before birth, a condition called congenital heart defect occurs (congenital means "existing at birth").

Congenital heart defects occur in about 8 percent to 10 percent of every 1,000 infants. About 1,000,000 adults in the United States have congenital heart disease.

Typically, the cause is unknown. However, sometimes a viral infection, environmental or hereditary factors may contritube to the condition.

There are may types of congenital heart defects, which may involve:

  • Abnormal blood flow through the heart.
  • Obstructed blood flow (stenosis), which may occur in the valves, arteries or veins.

Rarely, defects include those in which:

  • the right or left side of the heart is incompletely formed (hypoplastic heart);
  • only one ventricle is present;
  • both the pulmonary artery and aorta arise from the same ventricle.

Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital brings together the skills of specialists in the areas of cardiology, cardiac surgery and cardiac anesthesiology to deliver expert personalized care for infants, children and adolescents with congenital heart disease.  Plus, the same team cares for "grown-up" congenital heart patients through adulthood.  The highly-trained team offers a wealth of experience in traditional procedures, as well as innovative techniques, all performed with state-of-the-art technology.

Learn about types of Congenital Heart Disease


Diagnostic Testing

Technology to diagnose congenital heart defects includes fetal echocardiograms that may indicate a problem even before a baby is born. This early diagnosis allows cardiologists to monitor the baby’s heart development and plan ahead for any necessary steps to correct a problem. Echocardiograms are also used to diagnosis heart abnormalities in children and adolescents.We offer both transthoracic and transesopheal echocardiography.

An abnormal rhythm of the heart, called arrhythmia, causes the heart to pump less effectively.  Sacred Heart Children's Hospital has an electrophysiologist on staff to diagnose and treat arrhythmia.

After the diagnosis

After your child is diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, more tests may be needed. They’ll help the pediatric cardiologists and the surgeons decide what type of treatment will be best for your child.

Because no two children are exactly alike, children with the same heart defect may have different courses of treatment. Your doctor will advise you about your child’s specific heart defect and suggest treatment options.