Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart diseases are abnormalities in the heart that are present when a baby is born. Heart defects can range from mild to severe.

A person has congenital heart disease for their entire life even if it is repaired in childhood.

The specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute — the leading provider of pediatric heart care in Louisville and Southern Indiana — have skill and experience treating congenital heart disease.

The board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, can provide a precise diagnosis of your child’s congenital heart disease and develop a customized treatment plan for you and your child — for life.

Not all congenital heart diseases need surgery. Our specialists have the experience to know when a problem will resolve itself and which conditions are more complex.

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has ranked Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s pediatric heart care among the best in the region. Norton Children’s has a network of outreach diagnostic and treatment services throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Congenital heart defects happen because of incomplete or abnormal development of the baby’s heart during the very early weeks of pregnancy. Some defects are associated with genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome while most congenital heart defect causes are unknown.While they can’t be prevented, many treatments are available for the defects and related health conditions.

Common congenital heart diseases

Common types of congenital heart disease, include:

Congenital heart disease symptoms

Because congenital defects often affect the heart’s ability to pump blood and deliver oxygen to the tissues of the body, they often produce telltale signs, such as:

  • A bluish color to the lips, tongue and/or nailbeds (cyanosis)
  • An increased breathing rate or difficulty breathing
  • Poor appetite or difficulty feeding
  • Failure to thrive (weight loss or failure to gain weight)
  • Abnormal heart murmur
  • Sweating, especially during feedings
  • A weaker pulse

 

If you notice any of these signs in your baby or child, call your doctor right away. If your doctor notices these signs, they may refer you to a pediatric cardiologist — a doctor who specializes in treating heart conditions.

Diagnosing congenital heart disease

Some congenital heart diseases cause serious symptoms right after birth. For those, a baby will go to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Norton Children’s Hospital or Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital for immediate evaluation. Other defects might not be diagnosed until the teen years — or even adulthood.

Screening before birth

A fetal echocardiogram (echo) is a specialized type of ultrasound that can diagnose heart conditions while you’re pregnant and as early as 16 to 18 weeks into the pregnancy. Norton Children’s Heart Institute offers fetal echo tests at locations around Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Your obstetric (OB) physician may order a fetal echo when a possible heart abnormality is seen on a routine pregnancy ultrasound. Fetal echos are also done if another close family member has congenital heart disease or if the mother has a condition, such as diabetes, that might put the baby at increased risk for a heart condition.

Newborn screening

At least 24 hours after birth, newborns in the U.S. receive a pulse oximeter screening to check for low oxygen levels that can be a sign of congenital heart disease. This is a simple, painless test in which a sensor is placed on a baby’s skin to estimate how much oxygen is in the baby’s blood.

If the test reveals an issue, treatment can start right away. The screening will find most serious heart defects, but some babies who test normal could still have a heart condition, such as coarctation of the aorta or other defects that don’t directly lower oxygen levels.

Congenital heart disease treatment

Treatments can range widely from medicines, to surgery, to a heart transplantation. More treatments than ever are available for congenital heart disease, and most treatments have a high success rate.

Congenital heart disease doesn’t mean a child can’t lead a healthy, active life. By working with the experienced health care team at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, you will get a treatment plan based on your child’s specific needs to grow and thrive.

Why Norton Children’s Heart Institute?

Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, is a comprehensive pediatric heart surgery, heart failure and heart transplant program serving Kentucky, Southern Indiana and beyond.

The goal of the full-service Norton Children’s Heart Institute is to provide care for the child and the whole family. Our specialists are prepared to repair even the most complex congenital and acquired heart conditions.

Our heart team includes:

  • Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons
  • Pediatric transplant surgeons
  • Pediatric cardiologists
    • Fetal cardiologists
    • Adult congenital heart cardiologists
    • Heart failure/heart transplant cardiologists
    • Pediatric electrophysiologists
    • Pediatric cardiac catheterization cardiologists
  • Pediatric cardiovascular anesthesiologists
  • Pediatric intensive care physicians
  • Cardiac critical care nurses
  • Critical care pharmacists
  • Family support team
  • Child life specialists
  • Rehabilitation specialists
  • Social workers
Heart – 2929

Norton Children’s Heart Institute

Call for an appointment

(502) 629-2929

Middle schooler thriving after scare as a baby, now giving back

Kentucky Country Day School seventh grader Ryan Shaps raised $3,500 as a social action project for his bar mitzvah and through sponsors for the Norton Sports Health 10K he ran in September. He is donating […]

Read Full Story

5 things to keep in mind when buying toys

Toys and games are tons of fun for kids and even us, as adults. And while most toys are safe, they still cause a staggering number of trips to the hospital. According to the Consumer […]

Read Full Story

‘Text neck’ syndrome and some ways to ease the strain

We’ve all heard about the dangers of too much screen time for kids. Now, there is a new health concern about a possible physical injury associated with spending all that time on the phone: “text neck” […]

Read Full Story

Preventing teens’ abuse of opioids and other drugs

Would you notice if you were missing any of those prescription pain relievers leftover from your surgery last summer? Do you even know how many pills are in those bottles in the back of your […]

Read Full Story

Home & BMW Raffle winners drawn at Snow Ball

The winners of the 2019 Norton Children’s Hospital Home & BMW Raffle were drawn during the annual Snow Ball gala on Saturday, Nov. 23. The grand prize winner of a beautiful new home in Norton […]

Read Full Story

Search our entire site.