Congenital heart disease in adults

Congenital heart disease (congenital heart defect) is an abnormality in your heart's structure that you're born with. Although congenital heart disease is often considered a childhood condition, advances in surgical treatment mean most babies who once died of congenital heart disease survive well into adulthood.

While medical advances have improved, many adults with congenital heart disease may not be getting proper follow-up care. If you had a congenital heart defect repaired as an infant, you likely still need care as an adult.

Find out if and when you should check with your doctor, if you're likely to have complications, or if you're at greater risk of other heart problems as an adult.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Symptoms or signs of congenital heart disease may not show up until later in life. They may recur years after you've had treatment for a heart defect. Some common congenital heart disease symptoms you may have as an adult include:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • A bluish tint to the skin (cyanosis)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiring quickly upon exertion
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Swelling of body tissue or organs (edema)

When to see a doctor

If you're having worrisome symptoms, such as chest pain or severe shortness of breath, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

If you have any of the signs or symptoms of congenital heart disease or were treated for a congenital heart defect as a child, make an appointment to see your doctor.

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