Congenital heart disease in adults


Congenital heart disease refers to a variety of structural problems with the heart that have existed since birth. Congenital refers to a condition that you are born with. Both adults and children with congenital heart disease may experience altered blood flow via the heart.

There are several milder forms of congenital heart disease. However, complicated defects could result in potentially fatal issues. Improvements in diagnosis and care are extending the lives of those with congenital heart disease.

Congenital heart disease patients require lifetime medical treatment. Regular checkups, medicine, or surgery are all possible options of treatment. If you have adult congenital heart disease, inquire with your doctor how frequently you should undergo follow-up checkups.


Some people don’t experience the warning signs or symptoms of congenital heart disease until they are adults. Years after a congenital heart disease has been treated, symptoms may come back again.

Typical adult congenital heart disease signs and symptoms include:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Heart arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms)
  • Body organ or tissue swelling (edema)
  • Bluish discoloration of the fingernails, lips and skin (cyanosis)
  • Experiencing fatigue after activities

Seek immediate medical treatment if you experience any unsettling symptoms, such as chest pain or breathing difficulties.

Make an appointment to see your doctor if you have any of the signs or symptoms of congenital heart disease or if you had treatment for a congenital heart problem as a child.


The majority of congenital cardiac diseases have unknown causes. Some of these diseases are inherited from parents to children.

Understanding how the heart generally functions will help you better comprehend congenital heart disease.

  • Two top chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles) make up the heart’s chamber structure.
  • The right side of the heart transport blood to the lungs via the pulmonary arteries.
  • Blood absorbs oxygen in the lungs before returning to the left side of your heart via the pulmonary veins.
  • The blood is then pumped from the left side of the heart to the rest of the body via the aorta.

All of these cardiac structures, including the arteries, valves, chambers, and septum are susceptible to congenital heart disease.

Risk factors

Congenital cardiac disease may be influenced by a number of environmental and genetic risk factors, such as:

  • Genetics. Congenital heart disease is inherited in families and is linked to numerous genetic disorders. For example, congenital heart abnormalities are common in children with Down syndrome. While an unborn child is still in the mother’s womb, genetic testing can identify Down syndrome and several other genetic disorders.
  • Rubella (German measles). Rubella infection during pregnancy may have an impact on how the unborn child’s heart develops.
  • Diabetes. Women who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes during pregnancy may have an impact on how the baby’s heart develops. The risk of congenital heart disease is typically not increased by gestational diabetes.
  • Medications. Congenital heart disease and other birth problems might result from taking some drugs while expecting. Lithium, which is used to treat bipolar disorder, and isotretinoin, which is used to treat acne, are two drugs that have been related to cardiac problems. Inform your doctor of all the medications you take at all times.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk of fetal heart abnormalities.
  • Smoking. Smoking during pregnancy raises the chance that the baby will be born with congenital cardiac abnormalities.