Congenital heart disease can have a range of symptoms, because the condition refers to several different types of heart defect.
General signs of congenital heart disease can include:
- a blue tinge to the skin (cyanosis)
- rapid breathing
- rapid heartbeat
- swelling in the legs, tummy and around the eyes
- shortness of breath in babies during feeding (making it hard for them to gain weight) and in older children and adults during exercise
- extreme tiredness and fatigue
- fainting during exercise
- swelling in the hands, ankles or feet
In more severe cases, these problems may develop shortly after birth. However, symptoms sometimes don't develop until the teenage years or early adulthood.
Read more about the types of congenital heart disease.
Children and adults with congenital heart disease can also develop a range of further problems, such as:
- problems with growth and development
- repeated respiratory tract infections (RTIs) – infections of the sinuses, throat, airways or lungs
- heart infection (endocarditis)
- pulmonary hypertension – raised blood pressure within the blood vessels that supply the lungs (pulmonary arteries)
- heart failure – where the heart is unable to efficiently pump enough blood around the body
Read more about the complications of congenital heart disease.
Page last reviewed: 12 June 2018
Next review due: 12 June 2021