Congenital heart disease

About congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the term for a range of defects in the heart or surrounding blood vessels that are present from birth.

CHD is one of the most common birth defects, affecting about eight in every 1,000 babies born.

With advances in medicine, including earlier diagnosis, improved surgical techniques and advanced treatments, many more babies born with a congenital heart condition are living into adulthood.

As a result, adults with congenital heart disease (ACHD), also referred to as grown-up congenital heart disease (GUCH), now outnumber the babies and children with a heart condition.

Babies and children are initially referred to children’s congenital cardiac services and, when they get older, will move through a transitional clinic and into adult services.

However, for some adults, congenital heart conditions are not picked up until later in life – often either spotted during routine medical examinations or because complications have developed.

Types of congenital heart disease

There are many different types of congenital heart disease and treatments which exist for them.

The British Heart Foundation provides detailed information, pictures and explanations on congenital heart conditions including:

Further information on congenital heart conditions is available from the NHS website, while a mobile app developed clinicians at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital – Heartpedia – allows users to interact with 3D models of children’s heart anomalies and defects.