Congenital Heart Defects

Center for Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Adults with congenital heart defects require special care. At Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital, we have the expertise needed to help adults with this condition. To find a cardiologist who specializes in treating adults with congenital heart disease, please call 1.800.4BAYLOR.

Congenital Heart Disease




Congenital Heart Disease Specialist, Dr. Ari Cedars, Provides Information
for Adults Living with CHD




WFAA-TV Dallas (TX) – Midday News 2/11: Living With Congenital Heart Defects In Adulthood: An Interview With Baylor Heart & Vascular Hospital's Ari Cedars, MD
view video

Dr. Ari Cedars

Ari Cedars, MD
Medical Director – Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas
Center for Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Common Types of Adult Congenital Heart Defects

A congenital heart defect is a malformation of the heart or major blood vessels that is present at birth. Because both repaired and unrepaired congenital heart defects frequently lead to problems later on in life, all adults with congenital heart disease need to be evaluated by an adult congenital heart disease specialist and require follow-up cardiac care throughout their lives.

The most common types of congenital heart defects diagnosed for the first time in adulthood are:

  • Septal defects ("holes in the heart")
    A septal defect can occur between the two ventricles (pumping chambers) of the heart, which is called a ventricular septal defect, or between the two atria (filling chambers), which is called an atrial septal defect. With either type, oxygenated blood coming from the lungs gets mixed with deoxygenated blood returning from the body. Such holes can lead to complications and in most cases require repair for preventative purposes.
  • Congenital Valve defects
    A valve in the heart may be unable to open completely, or unable to close completely, due to a defect of function or shape. These defects force the heart to work harder as it moves blood through the heart.
  • Abnormal blood vessels
    Similar to valves to open incompletely, blood vessels that are too narrow at a certain point cause the heart to work harder. In addition, blood vessels can be connected incorrectly, sending deoxygenated blood to the body or already oxygenated blood back to the lungs.

Some specific conditions that may be found in adults include:

  • Marfan Syndrome
    This is a genetic disorder that affects the body's connective tissue, the tissue that holds all the body's cells, organs and tissue together. Patients with Marfan Syndrome are at risk of tearing or bursting of their major blood vessels.
  • Ebstein's Anomaly
    This defect is caused by a malformed heart valve that does not properly close to keep the blood flowing in the proper direction toward the lungs.
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
    This heart defect features four distinct problems: a hole between the lower chambers of the heart, an obstruction between the heart and lungs, the aorta (blood vessel) covers the hole in the lower chambers and the muscle surrounding the lower right chamber becomes overly thickened.

Regardless of the type of problem present, individuals with a congenital heart defect have an increased risk of cardiac problems, including stroke, pulmonary hypertension, heart failure and arrhythmia.

Causes of Congenital Heart Defects

In most cases, the cause of any particular congenital heart defect is unknown. The factors that can increase the chance of having a heart defect include:

  • Family history of birth defects
  • Premature birth
  • Genetic conditions such as Down syndrome
  • Pregnant women exposed to certain prescription medications, rubella (German measles) or uncontrolled diabetes

Special Considerations for Adults with Congenital Heart Defects

Adults with congenital heart defects are different from adults with other heart problems like coronary artery disease. They are typically younger, and have unique problems which vary depending on the particular heart condition with which they were born. This means that care for adults with congenital heart disease must be individualized.

Perhaps most important, adults with diagnosed congenital heart defects need routine checkups. These patients need to visit a primary care physician and cardiologist regularly, even when they are feeling well, to prevent problems from occurring.

To develop an individualized care strategy for your congenital heart disease, schedule an appointment with one of the expert cardiologists on the medical staff at Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital, please call 1.800.4BAYLOR.

Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital is the first North Texas hospital dedicated solely to the care and treatment of patients with cardiovascular diseases and related conditions. As part of Baylor Scott & White Health, Baylor Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital strives to provide quality and safety in the delivery of patient care. To learn more about understanding or treating congenital heart defects, or to schedule an appointment, call 1.800.4BAYLOR, or click Find a Physician today.

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