What is CHD

What is CHD you may ask? Before I tell you what CHD is, I want to explain the heart to you.

About the Heart:

The heart is a complex, muscular organ with four chambers designed to pump blood around the body. When properly formed there are two receiving chambers (known as atria), and two larger chambers (known as ventricles), but for those with a Congenital Heart Defect all is not working as it should be.

So, what is CHD?

CHD stands for Congenital Heart Defect and is an abnormality of the heart which occurs soon after conception and often before the mother is aware that she is pregnant. The defects can range in severity from simple problems, such as “holes” between chambers of the heart, to very severe malformations, such as complete absence of one or more chambers or valves.

What is the Definition of CHD:

Congenital means ‘born with’ and/or ‘from birth’. Sometimes a CHD can go undetected until adulthood but the majority are detected at birth. With modern medicine these defects are usually corrected with surgery. (3)

So, we now know what CHD stands for but did you know that there are 35+ known CHD’s! Plus many other defects that affect the heart such as:

Aortic Stenosis
Atrial Septal Defect
Atrio-ventricular Septal Defect
Coarctation of the Aorta
Complex Transposition of the Great Arteries
Congenitally corrected Transposition of the Great Arteries
Ebstein’s Anomaly
Eisenmenger Syndrome
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)
Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome (HRHS)
Persistant Ductus Arteriosis
Pulmonary Stenosis
Tetralogy of Fallot
Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Connection
Transposition of the Great Arteries
Ticuspid Atresia
Truncus Ateriosus
Ventricular Septal Defect

Signs and Symptons

Statistics of Congential Heart Defects

Congenital Heart Defects, also known as CHD’s are the #1 birth defect in UK affecting 8/1000 live births, this does not count all the children lost in pregnancy to CHD’s (1)

There are 35+ medically recognised CHD’s. List of CHD’s which includes associated CHD’s

CHD’s are the #1 cause of DEATH from a birth defect, killing twice as many children as cancer every year.

Congenital Heart Defects are not always found during pregnancy or at birth, many are not found till childhood, adolescence, adulthood, or after death when it is too late.

Many Dr’s believe that CHD’s are genetic, although most people know nothing of Heart Defects till they have a child born with one.

New studies are showing that Painkillers and Antidepressants taken before and during pregnancy can raise the risk of having a CHD child.

CHD’s can not be cured, the heart must be monitored throughout life. Most will need multiple open heart surgeries, some may even need a heart transplant.
Babies born with CHD’s may need their first open heart surgery at just a few hours or days old.

It has been estimated that there are currently 250,000 adults with CHD in the UK, approximately 1,000,000 in the US and similar numbers in proportional terms in Europe and the rest of the world. (2)

If you don’t know someone with a CHD sooner or later you will !

The abnormality of the heart is similar in everyone who has a CHD, but each person is unique and so is affected differently.

Various procedures are used to help repair the heart to prevent the need for surgery but not enough is being done in the UK to raise awareness of heart problems. Awareness is the key for hope and survival for sufferers and their families as it is often a silent killer.

Please remember that Congenital heart disease is the most frequent form of major birth defects in newborns affecting close to 1% of newborn babies (8 per 1,000), this does not count all the children lost in pregnancy to CHDs(3). (5)

This figure is an underestimate since it does not include some common problems, namely:
Patent ductus arteriosus in preterm babies (a temporary condition)
Bicuspid (two cusps) aortic valve (the aortic valve usually has three cusps or flaps)
Mitral valve prolapse (drooping of a heart valve)
Peripheral pulmonary stenosis (narrowing of the lung vessels well away from the heart) (6)

Wrote by: CHD-UK
Updated: December 2011


(1) Dr vonder muhill is a joint Royal Brompton-University of Toronto fellow in Adult Congenital Heart Disease/Defect.
(2) Webb GD and Williams RG (2001) 32nd Bethesda Conference: care of the adult with congenital heart disease. J Am Coll Cardiol 37: 1161-1198
(3) Dr vonder muhill is a joint Royal Brompton-University of Toronto fellow in Adult Congenital Heart Disease/Defect.
(4) CHD-UK Group on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2361087995
(5) CHD-UK on MySpace CHD-UK
(6) Janel: http://www.myspace.com/heyjude1027

Below are some links which I have used to obtain information when I first started raising awareness back in May 2007. Please feel free to take a look and educate yourself.