Congenital heart disease in adults – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

Congenital heart disease is one or more problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. Congenital means that you’re born with the condition. A congenital heart condition can change the way blood flows through the heart.
There are many different types of congenital heart defects. This article focuses on congenital heart disease in adults.
Some types of congenital heart disease may be mild. Others may cause life-threatening complications. Advances in diagnosis and treatment have improved survival for those born with a heart problem.
Treatment for congenital heart disease may include regular health checkups, medicines or surgery. If you have adult congenital heart disease, ask your healthcare professional how often you need a checkup.
Some people born with a heart problem don’t notice symptoms until later in life. Symptoms also may return years after a congenital heart defect is treated.
Common congenital heart disease symptoms in adults include:
Get emergency medical help if you have unexplained chest pain or shortness of breath.
Make an appointment for a health checkup if:

A typical heart has two upper and two lower chambers. The upper chambers, the right and left atria, receive incoming blood. The lower chambers, the more muscular right and left ventricles, pump blood out of the heart. The heart valves help keep blood flowing in the right direction.
Researchers aren’t sure what causes most types of congenital heart disease. They think that gene changes, certain medicines or health conditions, and environmental or lifestyle factors, such as smoking, may play a role.
Risk factors for congenital heart disease include:
Complications of congenital heart disease may occur years after the heart condition is treated.
Complications of congenital heart disease in adults include:
It may be possible to have a successful pregnancy with mild congenital heart disease. A healthcare professional may tell you not to get pregnant if you have complex congenital heart disease.
Before becoming pregnant, talk with your healthcare team about the possible risks and complications. Together you can discuss and plan for any special care needed during pregnancy.
Because the exact cause of most congenital heart disease is unknown, it may not be possible to prevent these heart conditions. Some types of congenital heart disease occur in families. If you have a high risk of giving birth to a child with a congenital heart defect, genetic testing and screening may be done during pregnancy.

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