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Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease is a type of defect in one or more structures of the heart or blood vessels that occurs before birth.

It affects about eight out of every 1,000 children. Congenital heart defects may produce symptoms at birth, during childhood, and sometimes not until adulthood.

In most cases scientists don't know why they occur. Heredity may play a role, as well as exposure to the fetus during pregnancy to certain viral infections, alcohol, or drugs.

Cardiomyopathies

Cardiomyopathies are diseases of the heart muscle itself. People with cardiomyopathies -- sometimes called an enlarged heart -- have hearts that are abnormally enlarged, thickened, and/or stiffened. As a result, the heart's ability to pump blood is weakened. Without treatment, cardiomyopathies worsen over time and often lead to heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms.

Pericarditis

Pericarditis is inflammation of the lining that surrounds the heart. It is a rare condition that is often caused by an infection.

Aorta Disease and Marfan Syndrome

The aorta is the large artery that leaves the heart and provides oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. These diseases and conditions can cause the aorta to dilate (widen) or dissect (tear), increasing the risk for future life-threatening events, such as:

  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • High blood pressure
  • Genetic conditions such as Marfan Syndrome
  • Connective tissue disorders (that affect the strength of the blood vessel walls) such as, scleroderma, osteogenesis imperfecta, polycystic kidney disease, and Turner's syndrome
  • Injury

People with aorta disease should be treated by an experienced team of cardiovascular specialists and surgeons.

Other Vascular Diseases

Your circulatory system is the system of blood vessels that carry blood to every part of your body.

Vascular disease includes any condition that affects your circulatory system. These include diseases of the arteries and blood flow to the brain.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Thomas M. Maddox, MD on June 11, 2012
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