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What are the most common heart birth defects?

Although the term "heart defect" can refer to many different heart problems, it's often used to talk about defects in the wall (septum) that divides the two upper or two lower chambers of the heart. Three of the more common defects are:
  • Atrial septal defect (ASD). This congenital defect (birth defect) is fairly common. With ASD, there is a hole in the wall between the left atrium and right atrium, the two upper chambers of the heart. The hole allows oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix and overfills the right atrium with blood. As a result, too much blood flows into the right ventricle and lungs. Your heart has to work harder, and your lungs can be damaged.
  • Patent foramen ovale (PFO). Fetuses have a normal opening (called a foramen ovale) between the left and right atria of the heart. But if this opening fails to close naturally soon after birth, the result is an open (patent) foramen ovale, or PFO. Most of the time, this defect doesn't cause significant health problems and doesn't require treatment. When a PFO is serious enough to cause problems, healthcare providers may recommend a procedure to close the hole.
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD). This problem -- which may be a birth defect or a result of damage to the heart -- is a hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles). With a VSD, oxygen-rich blood from the heart's left ventricle is forced through the hole into the right ventricle. The blood is then pumped back to the lungs -- even though it's already been refreshed with oxygen. This is inefficient and makes your heart work harder.

Of all birth defects that occur, heart defects are the most common, affecting one in every 100 babies. Common congenital heart defects include: 

-Valvar pulmonary or aortic stenosisAtrial septal defects

-Ventricular septal defectsAtrioventricular septal (endocardial cushion) defect

-Coarctation of the aorta

-Tetralogy of Fallot

-Transposition of the great arteries

-Hypoplastic left heart syndrome/Single ventricle

Common heart birth defects include patent ductus arteriosus (a bypass artery used before birth that does not close as it should), septal defects (holes in the heart), and coarctation of the aorta (too narrow major artery leading out to the body). Heart valve abnormalities and the transposition of the great vessels are also common. Lastly, tetralogy of Fallot, a combination of four heart defects, is another more common heart birth defect.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.