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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 occur before birth.

    It affects about 8 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 and genetics may play a role, as well as exposure to the fetus during pregnancy to certain viral infections, alcohol, or drugs.

    Cardiomyopathy or Enlarged Heart

    Cardiomyopathies, also called an enlarged heart, are diseases of the heart muscle itself. People with cardiomyopathies 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 is inflammation of the lining that surrounds the heart. It is a rare condition 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:

    • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
    • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
    • Genetic conditions, such as Marfan Syndrome, which causes the aorta to be weakened as it leaves the heart; this can lead to an aneurysm or ripping (dissection) of the aorta. Both can be repaired with surgery if caught early.
    • Connective tissue disorders (that affect the strength of the blood vessel walls), such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, scleroderma, osteogenesis imperfecta, polycystic kidney disease, and Turner's syndrome
    • Injury

    People with aortic disease should be treated by an experienced team of heart 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 James Beckerman, MD, FACC on April 20, 2016
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