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What Is a Congenital Heart Defect?

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Did you know congenital heart defects are one of the most common types of birth abnormalities? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 1 million children in the U.S. living with congenital heart defects.

What is a congenital heart defect?

A congenital heart defect is a structural defect in how a baby’s heart is formed and works. The condition affects the heart walls, heart valves and blood vessels and can range from simple and symptomless to complex and life-threatening.

What are the symptoms?

A congenital heart defect is present at birth and there are several tests (including an echocardiogram) that can verify its presence. Depending on the severity of the congenital heart defect, a baby might show the following symptoms:

  • Blue-tinted skin (especially in the nails or lips)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Failure to feed or develop normally
  • Swollen body tissue or organs

The Ochsner congenital heart program provides patients with access to the most advanced treatments and technologies such as:

  • Single ventricle repair with the Norwood procedure
  • Valvular repair
  • Ventricular assist device (VAD) implantation
  • Heart transplants

The Ochsner Congenital Heart center is developing into one of the top-performing centers in the country. Ochsner Children's released 2018 survival rates for congenital heart surgery patients, which included 100 percent survival for all neonatal surgery, including the Norwood procedure.

Ochsner’s survival rates are the result of the combined efforts of our growing team of dedicated professionals who have made it our mission to provide elite level outcomes and an excellent family experience. Click here to learn more about Ochsner’s survival rates for congenital heart surgery patients.

For more information about Ochsner’s congenital heart program or to make an appointment, please click here or call 504-842-0650.

For the seventh year in a row, Ochsner Children's has been ranked among the Top 50 Children’s Hospitals in the country for pediatric cardiology and heart surgery by U.S. News and World Report. The U.S. News Best Children’s Hospitals rankings rely on clinical data and on an annual survey of pediatric specialists. The rankings methodology factors in patient outcomes, such as mortality and infection rates, as well as available clinical resources and compliance with best practices. Ochsner Children's is Louisiana's only ranked children's hospital.

Ochsner Children's has offered exceptional pediatric care for more than 80 years. Ochsner offers the only pediatric heart and liver transplant program in the state, serving over 76,000 children every year with 140 physicians specializing in more than 30 pediatric specialties and sub-specialties. Ochsner Children’s flagship facility is located in New Orleans, with subspecialty clinics across Louisiana and in Mississippi.

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