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Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital Heart Disease

When the heart or blood vessels near the heart do not develop normally before birth, a condition called congenital heart disease occurs (congenital means "existing at birth"). Heart defects are the most common type of birth defect, occurring in 1 out of every 120 live births. Most are detected at birth, but sometimes they so not present symptoms until adulthood.

Inova's highly specialized physicians offer care to newborns and children with congenital heart disease. Care can continue at Inova through adulthood since even when defects are repaired during infancy or childhood, people born with congenital heart problems need to be carefully followed as adults.




Our team offers expert care and collaboration

The Congenital Heart Program at Inova Children’s Hospital, ranked 47th in the nation in cardiology by U.S. News & World Report (2015-2016), has been caring for the hearts of our region's children for more than 25 years. Every two weeks, a team of adult and pediatric cardiologists, electrophysiologists and cardiac surgeons meets to review patients and create an individualized treatment plan for each one.

In addition to caring for adults, we also have a separate pediatric heart surgery program within Inova, making us one of only a few hospitals in the country that cares for both populations.

Because we handle congenital heart disease in all stages, from birth to adulthood, we have a thorough understanding of the natural history of the disease and the techniques necessary to intervene with surgery at different points in time.

Physicians who are experienced with adult congenital heart disease include general cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, interventional cardiologists, electrophysiologists and vascular surgeons.


We treat all types of congenital heart defects

Treatment is based on the severity of the congenital heart disease. Some mild heart defects do not require any treatment. Others can be treated with medications, minimally invasive procedures or surgery.

Fortunately, an increasing number of congenital heart defects that once required surgery can now be treated with less invasive procedures. These procedures include:

  • Atrial septal defect (ASD) closure – this defect is a hole in the wall that separates the upper chambers of the heart. This causes blood to leak from one atrium to the other. A catheter (thin, flexible tube) is used to insert a small disk-like device, which is positioned across the defect and then allowed to expand, closing the hole.
  • Coarctation of the aorta – the aorta is the major artery that carries blood away from the heart to the body. With this defect, the aorta is narrowed. In some instances, a catheter is guide to guide a balloon, which is inflated to widen the narrow area. A stent can be left in place to keep the area widened.

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