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Treatments for congenital heart disease

Congenital heart problems range from simple to complex. Some heart problems can be monitored by your baby's cardiologist and managed with medication, while others will require heart surgery or cardiac catheterization — sometimes as soon as the first few hours after birth.


A child may "grow" out of some minor heart problems, such as a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) or an atrial septal defect (ASD).  These conditions may resolve on their own as the child grows. Other children have more complex forms of congenital heart disease, or a combination of different types, and require multiple operations or catheter interventions and lifelong care.


Some types of congenital heart disease, such as the holes that occur with ASD, VSD, and PDA, may close on their own in the first few days after birth. If it does not, you may not need to treat a small hole. Treatment of any type of disease, including valves, depends on the patient's symptoms.

watchful waiting

If the heart defect or malformation is small, and if the person has few or no symptoms, the doctor may advise waiting to see if the defect improves over time. This can be done especially for VSD, which can close in the first few years of life.



There are many medications that can help the heart work more efficiently and relieve symptoms.  Some can also be used to prevent blood clots from forming or to control an irregular heartbeat.



Implantable heart devices

Some complications associated with congenital heart defects can be prevented with some devices, including pacemakers and implantable defibrillators (ICDs). A pacemaker can help regulate an abnormal heart rate, and an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator may correct a life-threatening irregular heartbeat.




Catheter techniques allow doctors to repair some congenital heart defects without surgically opening the chest and heart. During these procedures, the doctor inserts a thin tube into a vein in the leg and guides it to the heart. Once the catheter is in the correct position, the doctor will use small tools that are passed through the catheter to correct the defect. For some people, this procedure can:


  • Treat valve stenosis. This is done by inserting and inflating a small balloon into the valve. This procedure, called valvuloplasty, widens the valve and allows it to work properly. NS

  • The salutation of abnormal openings in the heart: ASD, VSD, PDA.

  • Close the abnormal openings in the heart. With a personal digital assistant, for example, a very small closure device can be inserted into the catheter. When placed inside the hole, the device is released and can close the hole.


open heart surgery

This type of surgery may be needed if catheter procedures aren't enough to repair a congenital heart defect. The surgeon may perform open-heart surgery to close holes in the heart, repair heart valves, or widen blood vessels.

Sometimes open heart surgery is the best form of treatment, especially if a person has a number of types of congenital heart disease.


heart transplant

In the rare cases where a congenital heart defect is too complex to repair, a heart transplant may be needed.  During this procedure, the baby's heart is replaced with a healthy heart from a donor.

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