What are the types of congenital heart defects (CHD)?

Administration Specialist

Congenital heart disease is a term that describes many types of abnormal heart and blood vessel structures. For example, the muscular wall that separates the left and right sides of the heart can have holes, blood vessels can be attached in the wrong places, or the valves that control blood flow through the heart may not be formed correctly. In all cases, the normal circulation that pushes oxygen-rich blood out from the heart to the body and receives oxygen-poor blood from the body and sends it to the lungs is disrupted or doesn’t fully function.

The two most common congenital heart defects are ventricular septal defect (VSD) and atrial septal defect (ASD). According to the American Heart Association, of the thousands of babies born each year with a cardiovascular defect, 4 to 10 percent have septal defects.

  • A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole in the wall (called the “septum”) that separates the heart’s left and right ventricles, the lower pumping chambers.
  • An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the septum between the heart’s two upper chambers (the atria).
Linda Martinez
Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist

There are numerous types of congenital heart defects ranging in severity from minor causing no symptoms such as a patent foramen ovale to serious life-threatening conditions requiring open heart surgery at birth. The types of serious heart defects requiring intervention are usually diagnosed at birth or within the first year of life. The more benign types might be found in adulthood.

Congenital heart defects (CHD) can vary from mild (such as a small hole in the heart) to severe (such as missing or poorly formed parts of the heart). Different types of CHD include:

  • Atrial septal defect, in which there is a hole in the wall (septum) that divides the upper chambers of the heart (atria).
  • Atrioventricular septal defect, (AVSD), in which there are holes between chambers of the heart, and the valves that control the flow of blood between these chambers may not be formed correctly.
  • Coarctation of the aorta, in which a part of the aorta is narrower than usual. If the narrowing is severe enough and if it is not diagnosed, the baby may have serious problems and may need surgery or other procedures soon after birth.
  • Dextro-transposition of the great arteries (d-TGA), in which the two main arteries carrying blood out of the heart—the main pulmonary artery and the aorta—are switched in position (transposed)
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) affects normal blood flow through the heart. As the fetus develops during pregnancy, the left side of the heart does not form correctly.
  • Total anomalous pulmonary venous return (TAPVR) or connection (TAPVC), in which the veins bringing blood back from the lungs (pulmonary veins) don’t connect to the left atrium as they should. Instead, they go to the heart by way of an abnormal (anomalous) connection.
  • Truncus arteriosus, also known as common truncus, is a rare defect of the heart in which a single common blood vessel comes out of the heart, instead of the usual two vessels (the main pulmonary artery and aorta).
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD), in which the wall (septum) that separates the two lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart has a hole.

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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.