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All Geisinger locations are open and providing patient care. Please arrive as scheduled for your appointment unless you hear from a member of your care team. We appreciate your patience if you experience any delays during your visit.

Congenital heart disease

Whether you were diagnosed with a congenital heart condition recently or years ago, our team is here to deliver the care your heart needs.

Many congenital diagnoses are made in childhood. You may also receive a diagnosis as an adult. Our adult congenital heart specialists help manage these cases as well.

What is congenital heart disease?

Congenital heart disease refers to one or more problems with the structure or valves of your heart that have been present since birth. These conditions can affect the way blood flows through your heart. Common congenital heart conditions include:

  • Atrial septal defect
  • Coarctation of the aorta
  • Congenital valve defects
  • Ebstein’s anomaly
  • Holes in the heart
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Patent foramen ovale
  • Tricuspid aorta
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
  • Pulmonary artery stenosis
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Truncus arteriosus
  • Ventricular septal defects

Request a consultation

Our specialists are trained in all aspects of heart care. Call us today to schedule a consultation at 800-275-6401.

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What are the symptoms of congenital heart disease?

Congenital heart disease may not show any symptoms. However, for different stages of congenital heart disease, symptoms vary and may include:

  • Shortness of breath, especially when lying flat or with exertion
  • Heart palpitations
  • A heart murmur
  • Swelling, also known as edema, in your legs, feet and veins in your neck
  • Extreme fatigue 
  • A bluish tint to your skin, lips or nails

Just because you have some of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have congenital heart disease. But if you have symptoms, it’s still important to speak to your doctor to rule out other health conditions.

How are congenital heart conditions diagnosed?

Diagnostic tests your doctor may perform include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) – This noninvasive test uses small sensors attached to your chest and arms to record your heart’s electrical activity.
  • Blood tests – These tests can also rule out any issues with your thyroid, liver or kidneys. 
  • Chest X-ray – This allows your doctor to see the condition of your lungs and heart, and potentially rule out other causes of your symptoms.
  • Imaging tests – Your doctor might perform an X-ray, a more in-depth computed tomography (CT) scan or an ultrasound to get a closer look at your heart. 
  • Echocardiogram – A wand-like device is placed on your chest and uses sound waves to create a video of your heart working.
  • Heart monitor – You’ll wear a heart rhythm monitor anywhere from 24 hours to 4 weeks to record your heart’s electrical activity and monitor your heart rhythm.
  • Stress test – This involves monitoring your heart while you exercise.

What heart treatments are available?

Depending on the type and severity of your condition, one or more of the following treatments may be recommended:

Lifestyle changes

Your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes to help you manage your symptoms. These may include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Change in diet
  • Losing weight
  • Reducing stress
Medication

Your doctor may recommend prescription medications to help you manage your symptoms and treat heart conditions.

Congenital heart surgery

If you’ve been diagnosed with congenital heart disease, it means you were born with a heart defect that affects the shape of your heart or how it functions. Depending on the type of congenital heart defect you have, your surgeon may perform a procedure to repair your heart’s valves, your arteries or the heart muscle itself.

Congenital heart disease care at Geisinger

From diagnosis to treatment and management of congenital heart conditions, our specialists help you thrive.

We offer:

  • Personalized care: From simple to complex issues, our goal is to provide relief from heart conditions. With personalized treatment plans, we’re here to help you be as strong and healthy as possible.
  • Advanced diagnostic testing: We use advanced imaging and other testing to diagnose your heart condition. We offer noninvasive and minimally invasive tests including:
    • 3D echocardiography
    • Advanced MRI
    • CT angiography
  • Congenital heart disease program: We offer a dedicated congenital heart disease program, with care for all ages. Whether you were diagnosed in utero or later, we provide the specialized care you need to feel your best.
  • Team approach to complex care: We offer clinics that connect you with a variety of specialists and support staff in one visit. We educate you on the condition and provide management plans.
  • Treatments powered by research: Through ongoing education, research and innovation, we’re evolving heart care.
  • Genetic testing and counseling programs: Our cardiac genetics programs determine whether you face a higher-than-normal heart risk. Special programs such as MyCode®, which are only available at Geisinger, detect the earliest signs of certain heart conditions so you can start treatment right away. We may even help you avoid a heart diagnosis. Learn more or sign up for MyCode.
  • Women’s heart health specialists: Our cardiology team pursues breakthroughs and research that will impact the future of women’s heart health.
  • Excellent care in your neighborhood: With locations throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania, exceptional care is never far from home.
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