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Home > Wellness Resources > Health Library > Congenital Heart Defects: Complications
Most children and adults who have corrected
congenital heart defects lead healthy lives. But
complications sometimes develop.
These complications may start when the child is very young, or they may start in adulthood.
Heart failure. This is a major complication of congenital
heart defects. Heart failure may develop many years after the defect is
diagnosed. It can cause a variety of symptoms, such as
severe difficulty breathing or irregular heartbeats
Many people with congenital heart defects have a humming sound (heart murmur)
that can be heard with a stethoscope even after the heart defect is repaired.
Most heart murmurs are harmless ("innocent"). But sometimes a heart murmur is abnormal and is a sign of a heart problem. During exams, the doctor may check for a murmur that could be a sign of a problem.
Heart rate and rhythm problems. These heart problems can happen in children and adults who have congenital heart defects. There are many types of rate and rhythm problems that can happen. They can be irregular rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation. Or they can be a fast heart rate, such as a type of tachycardia.
Heart valve problem. If a child had a heart valve replacement, the child may need another replacement surgery when he or she gets older. Abnormally shaped heart valves,
in particular, can lead to complications such as
endocarditis or narrowed or leaky heart valves.
Endocarditis. A congenital heart defect can raise the risk of an infection in the heart called endocarditis. To prevent this infection, your child needs to take excellent care of his or her teeth and watch for signs of skin infections. If your child is at high risk, he or she might take antibiotics before having certain dental and surgical procedures that could put bacteria or fungi into your child's blood. The antibiotics lower the risk of getting endocarditis.
A heart defect might cause a child to not grow normally. Complications include:
Other Works Consulted
Baltimore RS, et al. (2015). Infective endocarditis in childhood: 2015 update: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 132(15): 1487–1515. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000298. Accessed November 24, 2015.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - PediatricsE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerLarry A. Latson, MD - Pediatric Cardiology
Current as ofJanuary 27, 2016
Current as of:
January 27, 2016
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Larry A. Latson, MD - Pediatric Cardiology
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