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Congenital Heart Disease/Defect

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Please add profiles of those who have OR have died from a congenital heart defect.

Please specify more detailed info in their “About” section relating to this project with the specific type of defect they have.

Tags: congenital heart defect (CHD), congenital heart anomaly, congenital heart disease, septal defect, Ventricular septal defect (VSD), atrial septal defects, tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of the great arteries, heart defects, congenital cardiovascular malformations, cause of death, Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, Marfan syndrome, heart murmur, holes in the heart, coarctation of the aorta (COA), heart valve defect,

Congenital heart disease/defect is heart structure malformations existing at birth. The heart ailment is a defect or abnormality, not a disease. A defect results when the heart or blood vessels near the heart don't develop normally before birth. These conditions can affect the heart’s shape or function of one or more parts of the body or how the heart works or both.

Most congenital heart problems do not occur with other diseases. Although these can be very serious conditions, many can be treated with surgery. Complications that can result from heart defects include heart failure.

The cause of a congenital heart defect is often unknown. Certain cases may be due to infections during pregnancy such as rubella, use of certain medications or drugs such as alcohol or tobacco, parents being closely related, or poor nutritional status or obesity in the mother. Having a parent with a congenital heart defect is also a risk factor. A number of genetic conditions are associated with heart defects including Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, and Marfan syndrome. Congenital heart defects are divided into two main groups: cyanotic heart defects and non-cyanotic heart defects, depending on whether the child has the potential to turn bluish in color. The problems may involve the interior walls of the heart, the heart valves, or the large blood vessels that lead to and from the heart.

Ventricular septal defect (VSD), atrial septal defects, and tetralogy of Fallot are the most common congenital heart defects. Less common defects in the association are truncus arteriosus and transposition of the great arteries.

Most of the known causes of congenital heart disease are sporadic genetic changes, either focal mutations or deletion or addition of segments of DNA.

Known environmental factors include certain infections during pregnancy such as Rubella, drugs (alcohol, hydantoin, lithium and thalidomide) and maternal illness (diabetes mellitus, phenylketonuria, and systemic lupus erythematosus).

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of congenital heart disease. Additionally, as maternal obesity increases, the risk of heart defects also increases. A distinct physiological mechanism has not been identified to explain the link between maternal obesity and CHD, but both pre-pregnancy folate deficiency and diabetes have been implicated in some studies.

Classification - A number of classification systems exist for congenital heart defects.

  • Congenital heart disease is often divided into 2 types: cyanotic (blue skin color caused by a lack of oxygen) and non-cyanotic.
  • In 2000 the International Congenital Heart Surgery Nomenclature was developed to provide a generic classification system.
    • Hypoplasia - can affect the heart, typically resulting in the underdevelopment of the right ventricle or the left ventricle.
    • Obstruction defects - occur when heart valves, arteries, or veins are abnormally narrow or blocked.
    • Septal defects - The septum is a wall of tissue which separates the left heart from the right heart. Defects in the interatrial septum or the interventricular septum allow blood to flow from the right side of the heart to the left, reducing the heart's efficiency. Ventricular septal defects are collectively the most common type of CHD,[33] although approximately 30% of adults have a type of atrial septal defect called probe patent foramen ovale.
    • Cyanotic defects - are called such because they result in cyanosis, a bluish-grey discoloration of the skin due to a lack of oxygen in the body. Such defects include persistent truncus arteriosus, total anomalous pulmonary venous connection, tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of the great vessels, and tricuspid atresia.

Defects: There are 35+ medically recognized CHD’s. (This is a partial listing)

  • Aortic valve stenosis
  • Atrial septal defect (ASD)
  • Atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD)
  • Bicuspid aortic valve
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Congenital Complete Heart Block
  • Dextrocardia
  • Double inlet left ventricle (DILV)
  • Double outlet right ventricle (DORV)
  • Ebstein's anomaly
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS)
  • Hypoplastic right heart syndrome (HRHS)
  • Mitral stenosis
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
  • Persistent truncus arteriosus
  • Pulmonary atresia
  • Pulmonary valve stenosis
  • Rhabdomyomas (Tumors of the Heart)
  • Transposition of the great vessels
    • dextro-Transposition of the great arteries (d-TGA)
    • levo-Transposition of the great arteries (l-TGA)
  • Tricuspid atresia
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD)
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW) Conditions affect the great vessels or other vessels in close proximity to the heart, but not the heart itself, but are often classified as congenital heart defects.
  • Coarctation of the aorta (CoA)
  • Double aortic arch, aberrant subclavian artery, and other malformations of the great arteries
  • Interrupted aortic arch (IAA)
  • Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)
  • Scimitar syndrome (SS)
    • Partial anomalous pulmonary venous connection (PAPVC)
    • Total anomalous pulmonary venous connection (TAPVC) Some constellations of multiple defects are commonly found together.
  • tetralogy of Fallot (ToF)
  • pentalogy of Cantrell
  • Shone's syndrome/ Shone's complex / Shone's anomaly


Heart defects are the most common birth defect. In 2013 they were present in 34.3 million people globally. They affect between 4 and 75 per 1,000 live births depending upon how they are diagnosed. About 6 to 19 per 1,000 cause a moderate to severe degree of problems. Congenital heart defects are the leading cause of birth defect-related deaths. In 2013 they resulted in 323,000 deaths down from 366,000 deaths in 1990. In the United States, more than 1 million adults are living with congenital heart defects.

  • CHDs affect nearly 1% of―or about 40,000―births per year in the United States.
  • The prevalence (the number of babies born with heart defect compared to the total number of births) of some CHDs, especially mild types, is increasing, while the prevalence of other types has remained stable. The most common type of heart defect is a ventricular septal defect (VSD).
  • About 25% of babies with a CHD have a critical CHD. Infants with critical CHDs generally need surgery or other procedures in their first year of life.
  • The prevalence of all types of CHDs, including critical CHDs, varies by state and by type of defect.
  • CHDs are a leading cause of birth defect-associated infant illness and death.
  • Infant deaths due to CHDs often occur when the baby is less than 28 days old (sometimes called the neonatal period). In a study of neonatal deaths, 4.2% of all neonatal deaths were due to a CHD.
  • During 1999–2006, there were 41,494 deaths related to CHDs in the United States. This means that CHDs were either the main cause of death or contributed to death in some way. During this time period, CHDs were listed as the main cause of death for 27,960 people. Nearly half (48%) of the deaths due to CHDs occurred during infancy (younger than 1 year of age)
  • The number of children dying from heart defects has fallen more than 80 per cent in the last three decades, according to official figures.
  • Between 1979 and 1983 more than 5,200 children died as a result of congenital heart disease, by 2008 this figure was 893 - a drop of 83 per cent - and experts say the numbers continue to fall.
  • 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

Famous People with a Congenital Heart Defect

[ Famous People with CHD] 

* Shaun White – (1986 - )Olympic Snowboarder (Tetralogy of Fallot) (Wikipedia - Shaun White)

  • Mark “Fight Shark” Miller – (1971- ) MMA Fighter/Kickboxer (Aortic Stenosis) (Wikipedia - Mark Miller (kickboxer))
  • Joe Graham Mellor aka Joe Strummer ( 21 August 1952 – 22 December 2002) – Clash front man, passed away due to undiagnosed CHD at 50
  • John Glascock (2 May 1951 - 17 November 1979) – base guitarist, Jethro Tull. Died at 28 from CHD complications (Find A Grave- John Glascock & Wikipedia - John Glascock)
  • Max Page -  Child Actor and Darth Vader in VW Superbowl Ad (Tetralogy of Fallot)
  • Tedy Bruschi - (1973 - ) Former Patriots linebacker and ESPN Commentator (Atrial Septal Defect) (Wikipedia - Tedy Bruschi)
  • Johnathan Southworth Ritter - aka John Ritter (September 17, 1948 – September 11, 2003) – Actor, passed away due to undiagnosed Congenital Heart Defect
  • Paul Cardall – Pianist, Complex CHD/Heart Transplant (Paul has a great CHD Blog at (Wikipedia - Paul Cardall)
  • Brian Thomas Littrell – (1975 - ) Member of the Backstreet Boys (Ventricular Septal Defect)
  • Jessie J - Singer (Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome)
  • Bret Michaels - Lead Singer: Poison (Atrial Septal Defect)
  • Hall Shelby (1923-2012) - automotive designer, racing driver and entrepreneur (Unspecified congenital heart valve disease)
  • Steve Hutchinson - Pro Football Player (Tennessee Titans-Guard) (Unspecified Heart Defect)
  • Damon Daniel Weber - actor (Deadwood) Father wrote a book about his passing from CHD post transplant called "Immortal Bird".  (Hypoplasia, possible HRHS)
  • Corey Smoot - Musician (Flattus Maximus in GWAR). Passed away suddenly due to previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect. (Unspecified coronary heart defect)
  • Robby Benson - Actor/Director and author of medical memoir "I'm not dead...Yet!" detailing his life with CHD. (Bicuspid Aortic Valve)
  • Kirk Urso - Professional Soccer Player with the Columbus Crew. Passed away in 8/2012 from undiagnosed unspecified CHD.
  • Kat Edorsson - Reality TV (Survivor). (Unspecified CHD, 2 OHS's)
  • Jimmy Osmond - Musician. (Atrial Septal Defect) (* three of his brothers, two of his nephews, and his daughter were also found to have ASD)
  • John Fox – Denver Broncos Coach. (CHD – Nonspecific Aortic Valve)
  • Whitney Duncan – American Country Music Artist, contestant on television show “Survivor”. (Atrial Septal Defect)
  • Mark O’Shea – Country Music artist and one half of the award-winning married country duo “O’Shea“. The duo incorporated heart kids into their video for “Thank you, Angels” (Tetralogy of Fallot)

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