Congenital Heart Disease

Adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) is a term for conditions that affect your heart’s structure. These heart defects impact blood flow. Symptoms may include fatigue, heart murmur and arrhythmia.


You may also have a higher risk of ACHD if your birthing parent:

  • Had rubella or influenza (flu) during the first three months of pregnancy.

  • Had Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes.

  • Took certain medications for acne, bipolar disorder or seizures.

  • Took ibuprofen when 30 weeks or more pregnant.


  • Bluish fingernails, lips and skin (cyanosis).

  • Dizziness.

  • Fatigue, including getting tired quickly with activity.

  • Heart murmur.

  • Heart palpitations.

  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmia).

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea).

  • Swelling (edema) of the ankles, feet or hands.


  • Cardiac catheterization, which can also be a treatment.

  • Chest X-ray.

  • Echocardiogram (echo).

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG).

  • Exercise stress test.

  • Heart MRI and heart CT scan.

  • Pulse oximetry.

  • Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE).


  • Leading a healthy lifestyle.

  • Letting all your healthcare providers and dentists know you have ACHD.

  • Regularly visiting a cardiologist specializing in ACHD.

  • Taking antibiotics before medical and dental surgeries, if recommended by your cardiologist.

  • Taking good care of your teeth and seeing your dentist regularly to prevent infections.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you are considering becoming pregnant.



Certain drugs can help your heart work better, including:

  • ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers.

  • Anticoagulants.

  • Beta-blockers.

  • Water pills (diuretics).

Implantable heart devices

Your provider may implant a device to control your heart rate (pacemaker) or fix an irregular heartbeat (implantable cardioverter defibrillator or ICD).

Cardiac catheterization

During cardiac catheterization, your provider inserts a thin tube (catheter) through a blood vessel in your groin. They guide the catheter to your heart. This procedure can help repair atrial septal defects. Your provider may also use a catheter with a tiny balloon to widen arteries (angioplasty) or valves (valvotomy).


Your surgeon may perform heart valve surgery to repair or replace one or more of your heart valves. This can be open-heart surgery or minimally invasive heart surgery. Your surgeon can also fix more complex congenital heart defects through heart surgery.

Heart transplant

People with life-threatening congenital heart disease may need a complete heart transplant.

diseases treatments health congenital-heart-disease disorders prevention cardiovascular-system

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