Congenital Heart Defects

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Congenital Heart Defects

Topic Overview

What are congenital heart defects?

Congenital heart defects are problems with how a baby's heart forms. "Congenital" means that the heart problem develops before the baby is born or at birth.

Most congenital heart defects affect how blood flows through the heart or through the blood vessels near the heart. Some defects may cause blood to flow in a pattern that is not normal. Others can completely or partially block blood flow.

There are many different types of congenital heart defects. They can be fairly simple, such as a hole between the chambers of the heart or a heart valve that has not formed right. Others are more serious and complex, such as a missing heart valve or heart chamber.

Some defects are discovered in the fetus (baby) while a woman is pregnant. Others are not found until birth. Still others may not be discovered until your child gets older or even until he or she becomes an adult.

No matter when a heart defect is discovered, having a child with a heart problem is very stressful. Dealing with the fear and uncertainty may seem overwhelming, especially when you have a fragile newborn. It may help you to learn as much as you can about your child's treatment and to talk to your doctor and other parents who have a child with similar problems.

What causes the defects?

No one knows exactly what causes most congenital heart defects. Genes passed down from a parent are a possible cause. Viral infections also may play a role. For example, if a woman gets German measles (rubella) while she is pregnant, it may cause problems with how her baby's heart develops. Women who have diabetes have a greater chance of having a child with a congenital heart defect.

Congenital heart defects are more common in babies who are born with genetic conditions such as Down syndrome.

Taking some prescription or other medicines during pregnancy may cause congenital heart defects. Women who use illegal "street" drugs or who drink alcohol during pregnancy have a higher risk of having a baby with a congenital heart defect.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of congenital heart defects will depend on what problem your baby has. Babies with congenital heart defects may have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Tiring quickly
  • Having difficulty breathing
  • Developing puffiness or swelling
  • Sweating easily
  • Having fewer wet diapers than normal
  • Not gaining weight as they should
  • Developing a bluish tint to the skin, lips, and fingernails that becomes worse while eating or crying
  • Having fainting or near-fainting spells, especially related to physical activity

In some cases, your child's congenital heart defect may be so mild that symptoms will not appear until the child is a teenager or young adult.

How are congenital heart defects diagnosed?

In most cases, congenital heart defects are found at birth or during a baby's first few months.

You may find that your baby has trouble eating or is not gaining weight. Or your doctor may hear abnormal sounds or murmurs in your baby's heart during a routine checkup. The first sign may be a bluish tint to the baby's skin.

After a doctor suspects a heart defect, your baby will probably need several tests, such as blood tests, an echocardiogram, and possibly a heart catheterization. The doctor may use the echocardiogram to check blood flow through your baby's heart and to look at the valves, thickness, and shape of the heart. A heart catheterization measures blood pressure in the heart and heart arteries and can show how well the heart is pumping.

Having your child go through this testing can be very scary. Do not be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to ask to feel comfortable. Talk to your doctor and the nurses. And talk to the people who are doing the testing.

How are they treated?

Some defects get better on their own and may not need treatment. Your baby's or child's treatment will depend on the type of defect.

Medicines may be used to help the heart work better. Medicines may also treat symptoms until the defect is repaired.

Some defects can be fixed by using a catheter, which does not require opening up the chest. A doctor threads a thin tube called a catheter through a blood vessel, typically one in the groin. The doctor threads the catheter through to the heart. There, he or she uses it to close holes or open narrowed blood vessels or valves.

If a baby has a large or complex defect, the baby may need one or more open-heart surgeries. The surgery may be done right away, done over several steps, or delayed until the baby is stronger. Sometimes surgery is delayed if the baby is premature or until the baby is strong enough to handle the surgery. In some cases, the child may need different types of surgery over time as he or she grows.

In rare cases, a heart defect may be so serious that a heart transplant is needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about congenital heart defects:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

Living with congenital heart defects:


The exact cause of most congenital heart defects is not known. But doctors do know that certain things increase the risk that a baby will have a heart defect.

  • If the baby's parents or brother or sister has a heart defect, the baby may have inherited a gene from the family that causes a heart problem.
  • If the baby's mother drinks alcohol, takes certain prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or uses illegal street drugs during pregnancy, this could cause the baby to have a heart defect.
  • If the baby is born prematurely, a heart defect may be more likely.
  • If the baby has a genetic condition such as Down syndrome, he or she has a higher risk of having a heart defect.
  • If the baby's mother has diabetes or is exposed to German measles (rubella) during her pregnancy, the baby has a greater chance of developing a heart defect.


Congenital heart defects cause a wide range of symptoms. Your baby may have only mild symptoms and tire easily, for example. He or she may have life-threatening symptoms, such as severe difficulty breathing. Or your baby may not have any symptoms that you notice at birth but may have them later as he or she grows.

Common symptoms of a congenital heart defect include:

  • Difficulty breathing. This often is noticed when your baby is active, such as during feeding or crying.
  • Poor weight gain. When most of a baby's energy is spent pumping blood to the body, little is left for eating and growing. Your baby may tire when eating and may take longer than expected to finish feeding.
  • Sweating, especially on the head. You may notice that your baby has damp hair and cool, moist skin.
  • Fatigue and fussiness. Your baby may be too tired to play and may sleep most of the time.
  • Fewer wet diapers than expected. After the first week, most newborns wet at least 6 diapers in a 24-hour period. You may also notice that your baby's urine is dark and strong-smelling.
  • Sudden weight gain or puffiness and swelling of the skin, seen most often around the eyes and in the hands and feet. These symptoms may be most noticeable when your baby first wakes up. The weight gain or puffiness can be caused by fluid retention that is related to poor blood circulation.

Blood flow problems caused by heart defects can mean that your baby gets less oxygen. This happens mostly in children who have cyanotic heart defects ("blue babies"). Cyanotic heart defects are abnormal openings between the heart chambers that allow oxygen-poor blood from the right side of the heart to mix with oxygen-rich blood from the left side of the heart. Other types of defects (acyanotic heart defects) make the heart work extra hard. Acyanotic heart defects do not cause cyanosis, because they typically do not interfere with the amount of oxygen or blood that reaches the body's tissues.

If a baby has trouble getting oxygen or the heart is working extra hard, symptoms include:

  • A bluish tint (cyanosis) to the skin, lips, and nail beds. This becomes worse when your baby cries or eats.
  • Slower-than-expected growth and development (with more severe congenital heart defects). Your baby may weigh less, be shorter, and take longer than expected to learn skills such as standing and walking.

Symptoms usually go away after the defect is corrected. A congenital heart defect that is repaired at the right time is less likely to permanently affect your child's growth and development.

What Happens

Congenital heart defects happen when the heart does not form normally as the baby (fetus) grows in the uterus. Heart defects may cause problems with blood flow through the heart after a baby is born. The problems can affect the baby's blood and oxygen supply.

If the problems are not treated, the baby could develop heart failure or other complications. Abnormally shaped heart valves, in particular, can lead to complications such as endocarditis or narrowed or leaky heart valves.

Newborns with serious life-threatening defects usually need immediate surgery. Medicines are sometimes used while waiting to see whether a mild defect heals on its own or until a child is strong enough to have heart catheterization or surgery. Some children may die even if they have early treatment.

Congenital heart defects may not be found until the teenage years or later. Some defects get better on their own and do not require treatment.

Although many children and adults with corrected heart defects lead normal lives, heart defects can be related to or cause long-term risks that may include:

  • Developmental delays or disabilities or behaviour problems.
  • Certain physical traits, such as smaller-than-average adult height and weight, clubbing, or cyanosis (bluish tint to the skin from low blood-oxygen levels). These can present challenges to a person's self-esteem and confidence.
  • A shorter lifespan than average, if the defect is severe or if complications, such as endocarditis, develop.

If you are an adult with a congenital heart defect, you may have to make decisions about:

  • Pregnancy and birth control. Some congenital heart defects are passed down through families. For this reason, you may want to seek genetic counselling to find out your risk for having a child with a heart defect. Pregnancy may increase certain health risks for women who have heart defects, requiring close monitoring from a doctor. If you are trying to prevent pregnancy, you will need to select a form of birth control that poses the lowest risk to your health.
  • Type of employment. Get an expert opinion from a cardiologist about your physical capabilities and risk for future heart problems as you explore career options. With this information, you can make realistic choices and get appropriate training. Some people may assume that all heart defects are serious enough to keep someone from normal activities or work. But very few adults with congenital heart defects are considered disabled.
  • Use of antibiotics. Most people with congenital heart defects have a lifelong increased risk for endocarditis. They need to take excellent care of their teeth and any types of infections. They may need to take antibiotics before having certain dental and surgical procedures.
  • Exercise. You need to talk to your doctor before getting involved in sports or exercising. You may need an exercise electrocardiogram (cardiac stress test), sometimes done along with a type of echocardiogram, to measure how your heart responds to exercise.

What Increases Your Risk

In most cases, the cause of a congenital heart defect is not known. But certain things increase your baby's chances of developing a heart defect.

  • Family history: A child's risk for having a congenital heart defect increases if a brother, sister, or parent has one.
  • Other genetic conditions: For example, Down syndrome has been linked to congenital heart defects.
  • Premature birth: Babies born too early have a higher chance of having a congenital heart defect.
  • Chronic conditions: Babies born to women with diabetes or phenylketonuria have a higher chance of having a congenital heart defect.

Women who plan to become pregnant and women who are pregnant can lower their risk of having a baby with a congenital heart defect by taking steps to have a healthy pregnancy. For healthy pregnancy choices, see the topic Pregnancy.

When To Call a Doctor

Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if your child has severe difficulty breathing, faints, or has seizures.

Call your doctor immediately if your child with a congenital heart defect has:

  • Symptoms of heart failure or cyanosis—the bluish tint that affects skin, lips, and nails because of lack of oxygen—that become significantly worse within a short time period.
  • Symptoms of endocarditis, such as a fever that will not go away.

Talk to your doctor if your child with a congenital heart defect has:

  • Moderate difficulty breathing.
  • Fewer wet diapers and has swelling (puffy eyes, hands, and feet).
  • A poor appetite and is not eating well, or sweats while eating, or has a rapid heartbeat or rapid breathing while eating.
  • Less energy or seems to be sleeping more than usual.
  • Sudden weight gain or is not gaining weight.

Watchful Waiting

Watchful waiting, which is a wait-and-see approach, is not appropriate if:

  • You think your child has a congenital heart defect.
  • Your child has a congenital heart defect and the symptoms change.

Who To See

Your family doctor or general practitioner can evaluate symptoms of a congenital heart defect. You or your child may be referred to a specialist, such as:

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

Examinations and Tests

Testing for congenital heart defects can be done while a woman is pregnant or after a baby's birth.

A fetal echocardiogram, which can be done as early as 16 weeks of pregnancy, is the best test before a baby's birth. The test uses sound waves to take pictures of the fetal heart. The fetal echocardiogram may be done if:

  • The mother or father has a congenital heart defect.
  • During her pregnancy the mother has been exposed to certain chemicals.
  • During her pregnancy the mother has taken medicines that may increase the risk that her baby (fetus) will develop heart defects.
  • A fetal ultrasound shows a problem with the heart. This routine test is often done during pregnancy. Fetal ultrasound can show a problem with the heart's structure, but it may not show some kinds of heart defects.

Many congenital heart defects are found in the first month after a baby is born. To diagnose a heart defect, a doctor will ask questions about the baby's symptoms, appetite, and other habits and give the baby a physical examination. An echocardiogram and possibly a heart catheterization (angiogram) may be needed.

More tests may be needed, depending on the symptoms and type of defect. These may include:

  • Chest X-ray, to check the size and blood vessels of the heart.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG), to check for irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) that may be related to a congenital heart defect.
  • Stress test (exercise electrocardiogram), which may be done around the time the child starts school to find out how much exercise your child can do.
  • Blood tests, to check for anemia, polycythemia, or levels of certain chemicals in the blood.
  • Oximetry, to see whether oxygen-poor blood is being pumped to the body. This test would be done if your baby has severe difficulty breathing or has a bluish tint (cyanosis) to the skin, lips, and nail beds. The amount of oxygen in the blood can also be measured by an arterial blood gas (ABG) or a transcutaneous monitor (in infants).
  • MRI of the heart and major blood vessels, to view abnormal heart structures and/or blood vessels. If this test is done, your child will probably be given medicine to make him or her relax and sleep during the test.

Early Detection

In families with a history of congenital heart defects, genetic testing may be done.

A baby may be checked for congenital heart defects if:

Treatment Overview

Your child's treatment for a congenital heart defect will be based on the type of problem he or she has. Your child's age, size, and general health also are important.

Treatment helps most children live fairly normal lives. Your child may need:

  • Medicines to help with symptoms. Some medicines can control a heartbeat that is not regular. Others make the heart stronger until a defect can be fixed. Your child may need some medicines after surgery.
  • Heart catheterization to find out details about the heart defect or sometimes to repair the defect. With heart catheterization, a doctor threads a thin, flexible tube called a catheter through a blood vessel—typically in the groin—and into the heart. This lets the doctor see how blood is flowing through the heart and heart arteries.
  • Surgery to repair the structural defect. If a young baby (for example, newborn to 3 months old) has a life-threatening defect, surgery may be needed right away. For some defects, the best time for surgery is before the child is 2 years old. For other defects, the best time may be between the ages of 2 and 4. In some cases, surgery may be done when a child is older. Surgery may be delayed if the defect is likely to heal on its own.

Initial treatment

If your child has a mild heart defect, a doctor may want to see if the defect gets better on its own. Your child may need some medicines during this time to help his or her heart work better. A prostaglandin inhibitor medicine may be given to a premature baby to help close a patent ductus arteriosus.

Heart catheterization may be done to partially or completely repair a defect. More severe defects require surgery.

If a newborn needs surgery, the surgery may be delayed until the baby is stronger. If the defect threatens the baby's life, surgery will be done right away.

Medicines may be given in a vein for severe defects such as coarctation of the aorta, transposition of the great vessels, or tetralogy of Fallot.

Medicine, heart catheterization, or surgery may also be used as initial treatment for a mild congenital heart defect that is not noticed until later in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood.

Ongoing treatment

If your child needs surgery, your doctor may want to wait until your child is about 2 to 4 years old. Meanwhile, caring for your child who has a heart problem can be hard. You may need to keep track of medicines and make frequent trips to the doctor. And you may feel guilty, as if something you did caused the child to have a heart defect. The defect is not your fault. Try to find support groups and other parents who can help you with the many emotions involved.

Until your child can have surgery, you may need to focus on:

Some congenital heart defects can be completely repaired with one surgery. More complex defects often require several surgeries over the years. Knowing what to expect in the hospital can help you plan ahead. For example, you can think about what kinds of items to bring and how you will want to record instructions from the health professionals in the hospital.

If your child is older, talking to him or her about what to expect may be helpful.

With most congenital heart defects, your child's heart will not be completely normal even after surgery. Medicines and trips to the cardiologist may be needed throughout life.

It can be hard to accept that your child has a heart defect. And it is normal to worry about his or her future. Make sure you take time to adjust to these challenges.

Adults who have congenital heart defects also need routine checkups. You also may need to be careful when you exercise or avoid exercise altogether.

Treatment if the condition gets worse

If your child has a severe congenital heart defect or has complications, more treatment is needed.

Medicines often are used for young children who have large defects and heart failure.

At this stage, medicines are used to help the heart work better:

Additional heart catheterization procedures or surgeries are sometimes needed to further correct the defect, either fully or partially.

What to think about

Some people die from severe congenital heart defects or related complications, such as heart failure.

If your baby is born with a severe heart defect, be assured that there is a good chance that he or she will survive with treatment. But you must also prepare for the possibility that your child may die. Talk with your doctor about local resources and organizations that can help you manage your emotional and practical struggles when faced with this possibility. It may help to talk with other parents who have had children with congenital heart disease. For more information on these resources, see the Other Places to Get Help section of this topic.


Congenital heart defects generally cannot be prevented. But before and during pregnancy you can lower your risk of having a baby with heart defects.

Women who plan to become pregnant and women who are pregnant can lower their risk of having a baby with a congenital heart defect by taking steps to have a healthy pregnancy. For healthy pregnancy choices, see the topic Pregnancy.

If you are thinking of becoming pregnant and you or your partner has a congenital heart defect, ask your doctor about genetic counselling. This may help you find out if you have an increased chance of having a child with a heart defect. A woman who has a congenital heart defect should try to find out if becoming pregnant will increase her risk of health problems.

If you are pregnant and someone else in your family has or had a congenital heart defect, talk with your doctor about tests that can tell whether your baby (fetus) has a heart defect. Some heart defects can be found before the baby is born, and treatment can begin early.

Home Treatment

Congenital heart defects often are repaired with surgery or heart catheterization, but home treatment also plays an important role.

Coping with oxygen problems

Home treatment may include caring for a child who has cyanosis, or problems getting enough oxygen. Children with cyanosis may have a bluish tint to the skin. If your child has "blue spells":

  • Attempt to calm him or her. This is the most important thing you can do.
  • Try placing the child with the knees to his or her chest—either on the back with the knees drawn up to the chest or in a sitting position with the chest to the knees.
  • You may need to give your child oxygen if the spells are severe and do not improve with a change in position. Oxygen is given through a small tube at the nose. Your doctor will determine the proper amount of oxygen needed.
  • Note when the blue spells occur and plan activities to try to decrease the spells.
  • Try to prevent cyanosis by keeping the child warm, decreasing activity, and feeding small, frequent meals.
  • Notify your child's doctor when a blue spell happens.

Getting your child to eat enough

Nutrition is very important for children who have congenital heart defects. Getting your child to eat right can be a challenge. Children with congenital heart defects often tire when eating, so they eat less and may not get enough calories. Feeding may take longer than you expect.

To help overcome feeding difficulties or lack of weight gain:

  • Learn to recognize your baby's first signs of hunger, such as fidgeting and sucking on a fist. This will help you to initiate feeding before your baby starts to cry. Your baby will have more energy to eat well if he or she isn't tired from crying.
  • Use a soft, special nipple made for babies born early. These nipples make it is easier for your baby to get enough formula or breast milk if you bottle-feed.
  • Burp your baby often, especially when using a bottle. Babies who have trouble sucking take in large amounts of air when they eat, which makes them feel full before they get enough formula or breast milk.
  • Give smaller, more frequent, meals. Smaller meals do not require as much energy to eat or digest.

Giving medicines

Medicines to treat congenital heart defects are very strong and can be dangerous if they are not given correctly. Be sure you know how to give your child's medicine safely.

If you are not comfortable giving medicine to your child, ask your doctor the following questions:

  • If the baby spits out or throws up the medicine, do I give another dose?
  • If a dose of medicine is missed, should I give an extra or a double dose?
  • How soon after starting the medicine should I expect my child to start getting better?
  • If the medicine is to be given 3 or 4 times a day, do I need to wake my child up at night for a dose of the medicine?
  • Should I give the medicine with food? If my child refuses to take the medicine, is it okay to add the medicine to food or drink to get the child to take it?
  • Can other medicines be given at the same time?
  • What are the most common side effects of the medicine?

If you need to give more than one medicine, ask your doctor about having a home health nurse visit you. The nurse can set up a schedule for the medicines, show you how to store them, and help you become more comfortable giving them.

Family issues

Take care of yourself and your family as you learn to deal with a lifelong condition. You can:

  • Talk to a counsellor. It is normal to feel sad. You may grieve because your baby is not the perfectly healthy infant you imagined. If you or a family member continues to feel extremely sad, guilty, or depressed or is otherwise having trouble dealing with your child's illness, talk with a doctor.
  • Join a support group. It is helpful to be in contact with organizations and people who can offer support and answer your questions.
  • Allow yourself time to adjust. It can be hard to accept that your child has a serious illness. And it is normal to worry about the effect the condition will have on your child's future.

Adults with congenital heart defects often have many issues to think about, including:

Adults and teens with congenital heart defects may have self-esteem issues because of how they look. They may have scars from repeated surgeries, be smaller, have clubbing, or have limits on how active they can be.

Children may feel alone and have trouble coping because they have to stay in the hospital often. Most children deal well with having a heart defect. But some children with serious heart defects may have a hard time feeling "normal."


Medicines often are needed to treat congenital heart defects until the defect can be repaired or corrected. Some complex acyanotic heart defects and many cyanotic heart defects require ongoing treatment with medicines even after the defect is repaired. Children with certain defects that cannot be completely corrected may have to take medicines for a long time.

Medicines typically are used to:

  • Treat heart failure by reducing the amount of extra fluid in the body (with diuretics), by increasing the strength of the heartbeats (with cardiac glycosides), or by enlarging blood vessels (with vasodilators).
  • Control irregular heartbeats by using antiarrhythmics.
  • Prevent endocarditis with antibiotics.
  • Lower the risk of blood clots in the heart or blood vessels.

Medication Choices

Medicines used to improve blood flow and help manage symptoms related to heart failure include:

Cardiac glycosides (such as digoxin).

Other medicines may include:

What To Think About

Treatment with medicines varies depending on the:

  • Type of defect. Complex cyanotic heart defects usually need treatment with medicines more often than acyanotic heart defects.
  • Size of the defect. Children with large defects are likely to have symptoms of heart failure and to need medicines for it.

Medicines used to treat congenital heart defects are very strong and can be dangerous if they are not given correctly. It is important to know how to give medicine to your child safely. For example, you should be confident with knowing how much medicine your child needs and how and when to give it.


If your child has a large or complex congenital heart defect, he or she may need open-heart surgery. The kind of surgery will depend on what defect the child has. In general, the types of surgery are:

  • Closing holes or blood vessels that have either formed or not closed. Usually, a patch or stitches are used.
  • Widening arteries.
  • Repairing or replacing valves that are too tight or that leak too much.
  • Returning the aorta or pulmonary arteries to the right position.
  • Repairing narrowed valves.

In rare cases, a heart transplant may be needed.

Be prepared for what to expect in the hospital. It may be shocking to see your newborn or child hooked up to so many machines and tubes. For example, your child will likely get medicines and fluids through an intravenous (IV) catheter. He or she may be on oxygen or a ventilator. Your child may have drains in the chest to remove fluids after surgery.

If your child is older, you can help your child feel more comfortable and secure by preparing him or her for what to expect, asking questions, and letting him or her talk to the doctor too.

Surgery Choices

The type of surgery is determined by the defect and the surgeon's preference. Surgery is done for more complex defects or when catheterization cannot correct the defect.

What To Think About

Some congenital heart defects can be completely repaired with one surgery. Some of the more complex heart defects require several surgeries over several years.

Even after surgery, your child may still have symptoms such as weakness and a bluish tint (cyanosis) to the skin, lips, and nail beds. Your doctor may recommend limiting exercise or sports as your child gets older.

Other Treatment

Heart catheterization may be used to correct certain congenital heart defects. Children typically recover more quickly from a heart catheterization procedure than from a surgery.

Additional treatment for a child with a congenital heart defect may involve counselling in nutrition, employment, or family issues in addition to medicines and surgery.

Other Places To Get Help


Canadian Cardiovascular Society
222 Queen Street
Suite 1403
Ottawa, ON  K1P 5V9
Phone: 1-877-569-3407 toll-free
(613) 569-3407
Fax: (613) 569-6574
Web Address:

The Canadian Cardiovascular Society works to advance the cardiovascular health and care of Canadians through leadership, research, and advocacy.

Canadian Paediatric Society
2305 Saint Laurent Boulevard
Ottawa, ON  K1G 4J8
Phone: (613) 526-9397
Fax: (613) 526-3332
Web Address:

The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) promotes quality health care for Canadian children and establishes guidelines for paediatric care. The organization offers educational materials on a variety of topics, including information on immunizations, pregnancy, safety issues, and teen health.

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
222 Queen Street
Suite 1402
Ottawa, ON  K1P 5V9
Phone: (613) 569-4361
Fax: (613) 569-3278
Web Address:

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada works to improve the health of Canadians by preventing and reducing disability and death from heart disease and stroke through research, health promotion, and advocacy.

U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD  20824-0105
Phone: (301) 592-8573
Fax: (240) 629-3246
TDD: (240) 629-3255
Web Address:

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) information center offers information and publications about preventing and treating:

  • Diseases affecting the heart and circulation, such as heart attacks, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, and heart problems present at birth (congenital heart diseases).
  • Diseases that affect the lungs, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, sleep apnea, and pneumonia.
  • Diseases that affect the blood, such as anemia, hemochromatosis, hemophilia, thalassemia, and von Willebrand disease.


Other Works Consulted

  • Brickner ME (2007). Congenital heart disease. In EJ Topol, ed., Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 3rd ed., pp. 502–536. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  • Warnes CA, et al. (2008). ACC/AHA 2008 Guidelines for the management of adults with congenital heart disease: Executive summary: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation, 118(23): 2395–2451.
  • Webb GD, et al. (2008). Congenital heart disease. In P Libby et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 8th ed., pp. 1561–1624. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Larry A. Latson, MD - Pediatric Cardiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised January 26, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.