A congenital heart disease is a heart condition that is present at birth. Such conditions can include abnormalities in cardiac muscle formation, defects of the heart valves, or malformations of the walls separating the chambers of the heart. In many cases, a congenital heart problem is detected during pregnancy at the time an ultrasound is performed. Once the baby is born the condition may be controlled using conservative measures such as medication. In fact, due to recent medical advances, patients who may have required heart surgery can at least delay, if not avoid, the need for surgical intervention.

That means that there is a growing demographic of people who were diagnosed with a congenital heart disease who may not require a transplant later during infancy or later in life. There are two main types of congenital heart disease – cyanotic congenital heart disease (indicating a structural problem denoted by a bluish skin color linked to a lack of oxygen) and acyanotic (indicating a condition that doesn’t affect the oxygenation of the blood). Although the specifics of each disease vary, patients tend to experience the following symptoms:

  • Heart arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats
  • Lightheadedness, fatigue, or fainting
  • Edema, or the swelling of tissues, especially in the legs and feet
  • Shortness of breath

Heart conditions that are present at birth are generally caused by genetic mutations, and there may also be a link between these diseases and high blood sugar levels in diabetic mothers. In most cases, heart defects can be controlled without the need for surgery, but the condition of some patients may worsen as they get older. Adults who are experiencing heart failure due to their congenital heart defects may be referred to a heart transplant center to receive care. The experienced team of medical professionals employed in Tampa General Hospital’s Heart Transplant Program performs a high volume of successful adult heart transplants every year. TGH also is a recognized leader in the field of circulatory support and ventricular assist devices (VADs). Individuals with a congenital heart disease who are referred to TGH by their physician will be evaluated to determine what approach would benefit them the most.

For more information about Tampa General Hospital’s Heart Transplant Program selection criteria for adult patients with congenital heart disease, please call 1-800-505-7769 (press 1 for the heart transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator), or call the coordinator directly at (813) 844-4088.