Guidelines for Living with a Congenital Heart Defect

A congenital defect is one that is present at birth. In some cases, a congenital heart defect will not cause symptoms and may not require treatment, while other heart defects require lifelong management. If you were diagnosed with a heart defect at birth, you can find the specialized care you need from the heart and vascular experts at JFK Medical Center.

Understanding the Risk of Complications

Many people lead healthy, productive lives despite their heart defects. However, it’s still important to understand your condition and the risk of complications. Some people with heart defects may develop a heart arrhythmia, which is an abnormal heart rate or rhythm. Infective endocarditis is a heart infection that may lead to secondary complications, including heart valve damage, heart failure and blood clots. Liver disease and pulmonary hypertension are other possibilities.

Leading a Healthy Lifestyle

Your cardiologist may offer lifestyle recommendations that are suited to your specific condition and general health. Although regular exercise is important, your doctor might ask that you avoid certain physical activities and follow up with him or her before changing your workout routine. It’s strongly recommended that people with congenital heart defects enjoy a heart-healthy diet. Your doctor may also counsel you about alcohol consumption, smoking and the use of certain drugs, such as performance enhancers.

Making Follow-Up Appointments

A congenital heart defect may require medical monitoring throughout a person’s lifetime. Consider asking your doctor if and when you should make appointments for diagnostic imaging or other tests. Some common exams include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, echocardiograms, electrocardiograms and angiograms.

Practicing Good Medication Management

Some people with congenital heart defects must take medications to manage their conditions and reduce the risk of complications. Keep an updated list of medications in your wallet or handbag. Set reminders on your phone or computer to help you take your medications on time. Inform your doctor before you have any dentistry work or surgeries done, as you may be asked to take antibiotics beforehand to prevent infections.

For the last 30 years, The Heart and Vascular Institute at JFK Medical Center has been serving the Atlantis community, earning a national reputation for their commitment to Cardiovascular excellence. For more information or to request a physician referral, call us 24/7 at 561-548-4JFK (4535) or visit us online at

Categories: Heart


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