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Congenital Heart Defects - Treatment Overview

Your child's treatment for a congenital heart defect will be based on the type of problem he or she has. Your child's age, size, and general health also are important.

Your child may need:

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  • Medicines to help with symptoms. Some medicines can control a heartbeat that isn't regular. Others make the heart stronger until a defect can be fixed. Your child may need some medicines after surgery. To learn more, see Medications.
  • A procedure called heart catheterization to find out details about the heart defect or sometimes to repair the defect. To learn more, see Other Treatment.
  • Surgery to repair the structural defect. If a newborn needs surgery, the surgery may be delayed until the baby is stronger. If the defect threatens the baby's life, surgery will be done right away. To learn more, see Surgery.

Your child will also need regular visits to a pediatric cardiologist.

Coping

Caring for a child who has a heart problem can be hard.

You may need to keep track of medicines and make frequent trips to the doctor. Costs can be high. Try to find support groups and other parents who can help you with the many emotions involved.

What to think about

Some children die from severe congenital heart defects or related complications, such as heart failure. If your baby is born with a severe heart defect, there's a good chance that he or she will survive with treatment. But you must also prepare for the possibility that your child may die. Talk with your doctor about local resources and organizations that can help you manage your emotional and practical struggles when faced with this possibility.

    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: March 12, 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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