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Congenital Heart Defects - Medications

Medicines often are needed to treat congenital heart defects until the defect can be repaired or corrected. Some children and adults need to take medicine even after the defect is repaired. Children with certain defects that cannot be completely corrected may have to take medicines for a long time.

Treatment with medicines depends on the:

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  • Type of defect. Complex cyanotic heart defects usually need treatment with medicines more often than acyanotic heart defects.
  • Size of the defect. Children with large or complex defects are likely to have symptoms and may need medicines to relieve the symptoms.

Medicine choices

Medicines might be used to treat complications, relieve symptoms, or prevent problems. They might not treat the defect itself.

The following are some of the medicines used for heart defects.

To treat complications and relieve symptoms

  • Diuretics lower the amount of extra fluid in the body.
  • Digoxin increases the strength of the heartbeats.
  • Vasodilators widen blood vessels so blood can flow more easily.
  • Antiarrhythmics treat and prevent irregular heartbeats.

To treat a certain defect

To prevent problems

What to think about

Know how to give medicine safely. Your child's heart medicines are very strong and can be dangerous if they aren't given correctly. For help, see the topic Congenital Heart Defects: Caring for Your Child.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 08, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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