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    Congenital Heart Defects - What Increases Your Risk

    In most cases, the cause of a congenital heart defect isn't known. But certain things increase your baby's chances of having a heart defect. These include:

    • Family history. A child's risk for having a congenital heart defect increases if a brother, sister, or parent has one.
    • Other genetic conditions. For example, Down syndrome has been linked to these defects.
    • Premature birth. Babies born too early have a higher chance of having a heart defect.
    • Chronic conditions. Babies born to women with diabetes or phenylketonuria have a higher chance of having a heart defect.
    • Use of alcohol or drugs during the pregnancy. When a woman drinks alcohol or takes certain drugs while she is pregnant, her baby may develop a heart defect.

    If you're concerned about having a baby with a congenital heart defect, you can take steps to lower your risk. For healthy pregnancy choices, see the topic Pregnancy.

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    Your Arterial Lifeline

    Atherosclerosis is dangerous because it's so stealthy. This process of narrowing and hardening of the arteries occurs over decades, usually without any symptoms. Heart attacks and strokes caused by atherosclerosis are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. But diseases caused by atherosclerosis also lead to chronic pain, kidney failure, blindness, and even impotence. It's time to shine some light on these hidden complications of atherosclerosis -- and to learn how to...

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    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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