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What are the health risks of having a congenital heart defect?

Francis X. Downey, MD
Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular)
People who have a congenital heart defect like patent foramen ovale (PFO) -- when the patent foramen ovale in the heart fails to close and stay closed within the first year of life -- or atrial septal defect (ASD) -- when there is a hole or passage between chambers of the heart that is not normal -- are at a higher health risk of stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), and some forms of heart failure. This is due to the movement of blood and possibly clots between the left and right sides of the heart. Usually, PFO and ASD are suspected in young people who have syncope (sudden loss of consciousness, fainting) or in people with high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries (pulmonary hypertension).

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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.