Frequently Asked Questions

What is a congenital heart defect?

  • A congenital heart defect is a problem with the heart’s structure that is present at birth.
  • Common defects include holes in the heart and misplaced, malformed, and/or missing valves, vessels and heart chambers. Heart defects often involve a combination of problems.

How common are congenital heart defects?

  • Heart defects are the most common birth defect. About one in 120 babies are born with some kind of heart defect.
  • Heart defects are about three times more common than muscular dystrophy and childhood cancer and about 40 times more common than cystic fibrosis.
  • There are about one-million adults and 800,000 children living with congenital heart defects in the United States. Advanced surgical techniques and improved medical care has resulted in increases in survival; the number of adults with congenital heart disease rises by 5% a year.
  • At least 10% of all congenital heart defects are first found in adulthood.

What are the long-term outcomes for adults with heart defects?

  • Due to medical breakthroughs, over 90% of children born with heart defects are now expected to live to adulthood and beyond.
  • With appropriate medical care, adults with all kinds of heart defects can now live longer, fuller lives than ever before.
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