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Congenital heart disease (congenital heart defect) is one or more abnormalities in your heart's structure that you're born with. This most common of birth defects can alter the way blood flows through your heart. Defects range from simple, which might cause no problems, to complex, which can cause life-threatening complications.
Advances in diagnosis and treatment mean most babies who once died of congenital heart disease survive well into adulthood. However, signs and symptoms of the condition can occur in adults later in life, even those who had treatment as a child.
If you have congenital heart disease you might need care throughout your life. Check with your health care provider to determine how often you should be seen as an adult.
Depending on the severity of your congenital heart disease, treatment might be aimed at correcting the congenital heart defect or dealing with complications caused by the defect. Treatment might include:
Many adults with congenital heart disease believe they've either outgrown their condition or that childhood treatment cured them. This might not be true, depending on the type of defect.
If you have congenital heart disease, even if you had surgery as a child, you're at risk of developing complications. So it's important to have lifelong follow-up care, especially if you had corrective heart surgery.
This follow-up care could be as simple as having periodic checkups with your health care provider, or it may involve regular screenings for complications. The important thing is to discuss your care plan with your health care provider and make sure you follow all recommendations.
Ideally, a cardiologist trained in treating adults with congenital heart defects will manage your care.