Congenital heart diseases are heart defects due to impairing of the normal development of the embryo heart, which occurs during the first then weeks of pregnancy.
Heart defects are of different types varying from abnormality involving a single part of the heart (for example a valve) to very complex defects in which there is a deep and severe upheaval of cardiac structure.

Obviously the severity of the heart disease and its repercussion on the child heath are different, as we can have form that have no involvement on child health and allow a normal life and form that are incompatible with life.

Congenital heart diseases are among the most frequent congenital anomaly: the incidence (number of new cases of congenital heart diseases in a given population) is computed as the number of children with heart disease among the live births. Numerous studies demonstrate that the incidence is about  eight cases for thousand live births; considering birthrate in Italy during the last years every year about 4000 thousands newborn come to live with heart disease.

Some heart diseases are more frequent than others, for example the ventricular septal defect which represents 32% of all the congenital heart diseases, the atrial septal defect 9%, patent ductus arteriosus and coarctation of aorta 8%, tetralogy of Fallot 6% and transposition of the great arteries 5%.

Congenital heart disease is not synonymous with severe disease as some heart diseases are so light that they do not involve well-being and health and do not require any treatment all life long. On the other hand there are some heart defects that lead to death few days after birth if no treatment, medical o surgical, is immediately undertaken.

<< back