What is Pediatric Heart Disease?

The heart is composed of four chambers or rooms. The top two chambers are called atriums, and these are the collecting chambers of the heart. The bottom two chambers are called ventricles, and these are the pumping chambers of the heart. Read more

Pediatric heart disease is a term used to describe several different heart conditions in children. The most common type of pediatric heart disease is congenital, meaning that children are born with it. Congenital heart disease (CHD) can exist in adults, but is still considered CHD if the adult was born with the disease.

Eight out of every 1,000 babies are born with CHD. About half of them— about 4 out of 1000— will need surgery to treat the disease. Of those who have surgery, 96 out of 100 (96%) go home alive after the surgery. Some milder forms of pediatric heart disease can be treated with medication and do not require surgery.

There are now more adults than children with CHD in the United States. Significant advances in the treatment of pediatric heart disease over the past 20 to 30 years have led to increased survival so that most children with CHD live to adulthood. This is a dramatic improvement from the 1940s and 1950s, when most forms of CHD were fatal.

The different types of congenital pediatric heart disease include:

  • Aortic Stenosis (AS) 
  • Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
  • Atrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD) 
  • Coarctation of the Aorta 
  • Ebstein's Anomaly
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)
  • Interrupted Aortic Arch (IAA) 
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
  • Pulmonary Stenosis (PS)
  • Pulmonary Atresia (PA) 
  • Single Ventricle (Functionally Univentricular Heart)
  • Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF)
  • Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR) 
  • Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA)
  • Tricuspid Atresia
  • Truncus Arteriosus 
  • Vascular Rings
  • Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)

Much more rarely, children have acquired heart disease, that is, they were not born with heart disease; but they acquired it after birth. These diseases include inflammatory heart disease such as rheumatic heart disease that occurs after rheumatic fever or infectious heart disease, such as endocarditis or trauma to the heart (cardiac trauma). The operations used to treat acquired heart disease in children are similar to those used to treat CHD.
Written by Jeffrey P. Jacobs, MD and Heidi Hess, RN - Reviewed September 2012