Adults with congenital heart disease may develop certain health problems later in life. They can limit your ability to perform everyday tasks and shorten your life span. Examples include:
- Arrhythmia: Arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm. It can occur when there is a problem with the heart’s structure or scar tissue from an earlier surgery.
- Endocarditis: Endocarditis is an infection in the heart. Taking antibiotics if indicated for a specific defect before dental and surgical procedures can help prevent heart infection.
- Heart failure: In heart failure, the heart can no longer pump adequately for proper blood circulation to fulfill the body’s needs. It’s sometimes called congestive heart failure.
- Hypertension: Hypertension (high blood pressure) occurs when pumping blood puts too much pressure on blood vessel walls.
- Pregnancy complications: Women with ACHD may have an increased risk of pregnancy complications, including arrhythmia, heart failure and stroke.
- Pulmonary hypertension: Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the lung’s arteries. It can lead to heart failure.
- Stroke: A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked or bursts. This blockage or rupture cuts off blood supply to the brain.
- Sudden cardiac death: Sudden cardiac death is a sudden loss of heart function. It’s caused by sudden cardiac arrest. This life-threatening condition occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions, most commonly causing a dangerously fast heartbeat.
- Valve dysfunction: If the heart’s valves aren’t working correctly, blood may be restricted or back up into the heart chambers causing overload or the heart to work harder than it should.
It’s important to see a cardiologist regularly to monitor your heart and prevent or treat complications. Treatment will depend on the type of heart defect you have and how it’s affecting you personally.