Common Congenital Heart Defects

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These are the common heart defects occur in babies:


  1. Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
    Septum is the wall that divides the chambers of the heart. An atrial septal defect (ASD) is an opening in this wall that divides the atrial (upper chambers), that fails to close during development.

    The atrial receives blood from the body and the lungs. When a hole exists between the atrial, a large amount of oxygen-rich (red) blood from the heart’s left side leaks back to the right side. This opening also allows extra blood to go to the lungs, which may increase the workload of the heart.

  2. Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)
    Ventricular septal defect (VSD) occurs when a large opening (hole) exists between the wall that separates the ventricles (lower chambers).

    The ventricles pump blood out of the heart to the lungs and body. In VSD, a large amount of oxygen-rich (red) blood from the heart’s left side is forced through the defect to the right side.

  3. Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
    The passageway (ductus arteriosus) between the pulmonary artery and the aorta closes within a few hours after birth. If it doesn’t, some blood that should go through the aorta and on to nourish the body goes back to the lungs.
  4. Atrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD)
    This defect occurs when there is a large hole in the centre of the heart and involves both upper and lower chambers.

    The tricuspid and mitral valves that separate the upper and lower chambers are also not formed as individual valves. Instead, a single large valve forms that crosses the defect.

  5. Pulmonary Stenosis
    Usually, the pulmonary valve opens to let blood flow from the right ventricle to the lungs. But when the pulmonary valve narrows too much, it causes the right ventricle to pump harder to get blood past the blockage. This causes blueness in some babies.
  6. Aortic Stenosis
    When the aortic valve does not form properly, instead of having three parts, it may only have one or two cusps which are thick and stiff. Thus, when the narrowing occurs in the aortic valve, it makes it hard for the heart to pump blood to the body.
  7. Coarctation of the Aorta
    In this defect, the aorta is constricted or pinched. Thus, the blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body is obstructed. Blood pressure above the constriction also increases.
An interior anatomy of a normal heart.An interior anatomy of a normal heart. – image from NIH


  1. Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF)
    This is a combination of four defects in the heart:
    (i) Hole between the two ventricles
    (ii) Narrowing between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery
    (iii) Thickening of the wall of the right ventricle
    (iv) Imbalance of aorta and ventricular septum

    As blood flow to the lungs is reduced, darker blood with less oxygen circulates. Thus, resulting in the “blue” colors in these babies.

  2. Transposition Of The Great Arteries (TGA)
    The aorta carries oxygen-rich (red), from the left ventricle to the body and the pulmonary artery carries venous (bluish) blood from the right ventricle to the lungs to get oxygen. In TGA, the vessels are reversed. This results in oxygenated blood directed back to the lungs while deoxygenated blood is circulated in the body.
  3. Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Connection
    This is a drainage return problem. The pulmonary veins that bring oxygen-rich (red) blood from the lungs back to the heart are not connected to the atrium. Instead, the pulmonary veins drain through normal connections to the right atrium.

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