congenital heart disease

congenital heart disease

Deformity of the heart. Examples include septal defect (opening in the septum between the sides of the heart), atresia (absence) or stenosis (narrowing) of one or more valves, tetralogy of Fallot (with four components: ventricular septal defect, pulmonary valve stenosis, right ventricular enlargement, and positioning of the aorta so that it receives blood from both ventricles), and transposition of the great vessels (so the pulmonary and systemic circulations each receive blood from the wrong side of the heart). Such defects can prevent enough oxygen from reaching the tissues, so the skin has a bluish cast. Many are fatal if not corrected surgically soon after birth—or, rarely, before birth, if detected prenatally. Abnormalities of the large vessels are usually less serious (see aorta, coarctation of; ductus arteriosus).

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