The Most Common Congenital Heart Diseases

Congenital heart diseases are a group of deformities that affect the heart and are present at birth. In this article, we go into detail about which types are the most common and what the consequences are.
The Most Common Congenital Heart Diseases

Last update: 07 June, 2021

Congenital heart diseases are where one or several parts of the heart’s anatomy are damaged. These damages are present from birth, given that they develop during the embryonic period. According to the Spanish Heart Foundation (Fundación Española del Corazón), they appear in approximately 1% of live newborns.

As the heart is an essential organ, these damages will have a huge impact on those who develop them. For that reason, it’s important to diagnose and treat them as soon as possible. Below, we’ll tell you which are the most common and some information about them.

What are congenital heart diseases?

A doctor and a baby.
According to data from the Spanish Heat Foundation, approximately 1% of live newborns are born with some kind of congenital heart disease.

Congenital heart diseases are a group of illnesses that are characterized by anatomic injuries in one or several parts of the heart. It’s not entirely clear what the cause is, but specialists believe they develop due to many factors. These factors cause an alteration in the heart’s development as the fetus grows.

The damage is present from birth. Some will develop from this moment, and others will do so later; it depends on the kind of heart disease and the severity. Heart diseases of this kind can affect any person regardless of gender.

You may be interested in Heart Murmurs in Children

Which types are the most common?

There are approximately around 300 different types of congenital heart diseases. They can appear independently or combine with other types in the same person. The prognosis and treatment of each one will be different. Some of the most comment congenital heart diseases are as follows:

  • Interatrial and interventricular communication: this is when there are holes in the membrane that separates the atrium or the ventricles. This means that the oxygenated blood on one side of the heart mixes with the unoxygenated blood from the other side, losing some of the oxygen.
  • Pulmonary valve stenosis: this valve is in charge of regulating the blood flow from the right ventricle to the lungs. When it’s thinner than normal, the ventricle has to work harder, which ends up deforming it, with the complications this brings.
  • Aortic valve stenosis: the aortic valve has the job of moderating the blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta, and then to the rest of the body. A decrease in size means that the left ventricle is the one that ends up working harder and becoming deformed. This leads to a dysfunctional heart.
  • Persistent ductus: the ductus is a vessel that connects the aortic arteries and pulmonary arteries in the fetus. This allows the fetus’s circulation to function correctly. Generally speaking, it only closes at birth. If that doesn’t happen, the blood of both arteries mix, losing some of the oxygen and overloading the heart.

Some combined deformities

A baby in a hospital bed.
Tetralogy of Fallot is one of the combined deformities that require surgical intervention as treatment.
  • Tetralogy of Fallot: this congenital heart disease is a combination of 4 deformities. These include VSD, pulmonary stenosis, right ventricular hypertrophy, and aortic deformity. This disorder causes a lack of oxygen in those who present it. It requires surgery to correct it.
  • Transposition of the great arteries: in this deformation, the aortic arteries and pulmonary arteries are swapped. The aortic connects to the right ventricle and the pulmonary connects to the left. This creates two parallel circulations. On one side we have the unoxygenated blood, and on the other, we have the oxygenated blood, and they don’t mix. This type also requires surgery.

What are the consequences of congenital heart diseases?

As we’ve already mentioned, each kind of congenital heart disease will have a different diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. What they all have in common is that, as it’s in such an essential organ – especially if it’s a significant deformity – it can lead to serious and important consequences.

As such, it’s essential for the baby to undergo relevant medical check-ups both in pregnancy and newly born. Doctors are able to diagnose some of them in the fetus, and even treat them inside the uterus.

Regardless, we’ve already mentioned that in some of these deformities, although present from birth, symptoms don’t start to show until some time has passed. For that reason, if you notice any new symptom or sign in your newborn, it’s essential to visit a doctor so that they can do the necessary studies.

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