Heart defects are defects in the structure of the heart that were either present at birth or were acquired. These defects usually cause the blood to flow through the heart in an abnormal pattern, placing an excessive amount of stress on the heart muscle and causing poor oxygenation of the blood.
All heart defects can be separated into two large groups with very distinct symptoms and causes:
- Congenital heart defects (also known as congenital heart anomaly) – are defects which were present at birth. They encompass structural changes to the heart and vessels near it. Some of those defects are very mild and do not require treatment, while others are life-threatening and demand surgery.
- Valvular heart disease – is a disease which can involve one or more of the heart’s valves (aortic, mitral, pulmonary and tricuspid). This condition is usually a complication of some other disease of the heart which damaged the heart’s valves.