Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital heart disease is the number one birth defect in the
United States. Because of medical and surgical advances, most babies with
congenital heart defects now survive well into adulthood.
If you’re an adult living with congenital heart disease, you need
regular follow-up care throughout life to prevent or manage possible
complications. At the Wake Forest Heart & Vascular Center, we provide a
full spectrum of care for patients through adulthood.
What is Congenital Heart Disease?
Congenital heart disease (or defect) is an abnormality in your
heart’s structure that develops before birth. The most common congenital heart
- Heart valve defects, including narrowed or
closed valves, which disrupt forward blood flow, or leaky valves that allow
blood to leak backwards.
- Defects in the walls between the atria and
ventricles of the heart. Openings between these chambers may allow abnormal
mixing of oxygen-rich and oxygen-deficient blood, which means the body would
not receive enough oxygen.
- Heart muscle abnormalities that can lead to heart failure.
Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease
Physicians can often detect and diagnose congenital heart disease
before birth, right after birth and during childhood. But, many people have
heart defects with few symptoms, so their problems may not be detected until
Some heart defects, especially severe ones, do cause signs and
symptoms early on. Symptoms in babies may include:
- Rapid breathing
- Cyanosis (bluish coloring in the skin, lips
- Poor blood circulation
- Low blood pressure
Adolescents and adults with congenital heart disease may have
additional symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Getting tiring quickly after activity
- Dizziness or fainting
- Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen
or veins in the neck
- Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
Diagnosing Congenital Heart Disease
There are more than 30 different types of congenital heart
disease, so we need a detailed understanding of each patient’s condition. At the
Wake Forest Heart & Vascular Center, we use the latest diagnostic tools to
thoroughly evaluate each patient and help develop a treatment plan:
Learn more about heart and
at Wake Forest.
Treating Congenital Heart Disease at Wake Forest Baptist
If doctors diagnosed your congenital heart disease in infancy or
childhood, you may have already undergone one or more surgeries. We work
closely with our partners at Brenner’s Children’s Hospital to manage adults with congenital
heart who need ongoing management. Sometimes, you may need an additional
procedure to treat your condition.
We specialize in congenital heart disease repair. Our program includes a
sophisticated team of specialists, including pediatric and adult cardiac
surgeons. We will develop a personalized treatment plan for you, which may also
include one or more of the following:
and your doctor can decide which treatment is right for you. All of our
patients receive pre-operative counseling to help them understand the risks and
benefits of procedures.
an appointment online. Or, for more
information, please call:
- 336-716-WAKE or