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Congenital Heart Disease Information

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. 

New patients may request an appointment online to discuss congenital disease treatment with our team

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 defects include: 

  • 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 adulthood. 

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 and fingernails) 
  • Fatigue 
  • 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 vascular diagnosis at Wake Forest. 

Congenital Heart Disease Treatment 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:

Only you 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. 

Contact Us 

Request a heart disease evaluation or treatment appointment online. Or, for more information, please call: 

  • 336-716-WAKE or 
  • 888-716-WAKE (toll-free) 


Quick Reference

Heart & Vascular Center
New Patients

Local 336-716-WAKE
Toll-free 888-716-WAKE

Returning Patients

Vascular 336-716-4151
Heart 336-716-6674

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We are happy to take your appointment request over the phone, or, you may fill out an online request form.

Last Updated: 08-24-2016
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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