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Congenital Heart Disease Prevention

Medically reviewed by Lauren Labrador, MD, FPCP, DPCC · Cardiology

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Sep 01, 2022

Congenital Heart Disease Prevention

One in 200 children are born with a congenital cardiac condition. Congenital heart disease is more common in premature infants, but it can affect anyone. It can be caused by a variety of factors, and while it sometimes runs in families, there is a new and rapidly developing field of genetics called human cardiovascular genetics that aims to identify the genes responsible for heart development and disease. Although congenital heart disease is frequently unavoidable, avoiding toxic exposures, such as drinking alcohol while pregnant, can prevent some cases of it. Here are other ways to congenital heart disease prevention.

Congenital Heart Disease Prevention

1. Don’t use recreational drugs

Abuse of drugs increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and irregular heartbeats. Drug abuse can affect the human heart and cause pulmonary oedema, which is triggered when too much fluid backs up in the lung, leading to failure and shortness of breath, and endocarditis, which is known as a life-long condition caused by the misuse of drugs through injections, irregular heartbeats, and, in some cases brisk, heartbeats. Some drugs can also reduce the rate of blood to the heart. This possibly could stop the functioning of the muscles and body.


Besides illicit drugs, one must also be careful with other drugs, like tretinoin, certain antibiotics, ARBS, and thalidomide. These medicines can be teratogens, which can cause malformation of the embryo. The best course of action is to only take medicines under the advice and supervision of a doctor.

2. Get all recommended screening tests during pregnancy to detect problems as early as possible

Using echocardiography, congenital heart problems can be detected during fetal life. Prenatal diagnosis permits complete examination of affected babies for concomitant disorders and offers parents time to learn about the prognosis of the fetus and potential treatments. Prenatal diagnosis offers a chance for fetal cardiac intervention in a small percentage of cases where the natural history indicates a poor outcome.

For some cardiac lesions, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, transposition of the great arteries, and coarctation of the aorta, prenatal diagnosis has been shown to reduce postnatal morbidity and mortality. Prenatal diagnosis also lowers some care costs, such as the transport of critically ill infants. 

3. Manage any health conditions, such as diabetes and phenylketonuria

Can PKU cause heart problems? Other defining medical issues include heart defects or other heart problems, an abnormally small head size (microcephaly), and behavioral issues. Women with PKU who have uncontrolled phenylalanine levels also have a higher risk of miscarriage.

Learn how to protect your heart with easy lifestyle adjustments that can also help you manage diabetes. These adjustments can lower your risk for heart disease or prevent it from getting worse. These can also help you manage diabetes. They include following a healthy diet. Eamore fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. In addition, consume fewer processed foods (like chips, sweets, and fast food), avoid trans fat, and drink more water.

Try to maintain a healthy weight if you’re overweight. Even small weight loss will help lower your triglycerides and blood sugar. Around 5% to 7% of body weight, or 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person, is considered mild weight loss. Make an effort to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, such as brisk walking. Physical activity increases your body’s sensitivity to insulin, which helps manage diabetes. It also helps control blood sugar levels and lowers your risk of heart disease.

Other conditions to look into are maternal diabetes and rubella infection. Environmental factors should also be taken into account.

4. Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke

Women who smoked anytime during the month before pregnancy to the end of the first trimester were more likely to have infants with septal heart defects than women who did not smoke during this time period. This association was stronger for mothers who reported heavier smoking during this period.

Regarding specific types of congenital heart defects, the analysis showed that maternal smoking was significantly associated with a 27% greater risk of atrial septal defect and a 43% greater risk of right ventricular outflow tract obstruction compared to no smoking. The overall risk of congenital heart defects with all types of parental smoking was greater when the analysis was restricted to Asian populations.

5. Avoid alcohol

It is advised that both men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, with at least a few days without alcohol. Everyone is affected differently by alcohol. The overall impact it has on the body depends on a person’s size, weight, whether they’ve eaten, the type of drink they’re drinking, age, gender, and, most importantly, their overall health. Women are more susceptible to heart disease than men. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can have a serious negative impact on their cardiovascular health. Alcohol abuse can cause problems with the heart and blood vessels including cardiomyopathy, or poisoning of the heart and its muscle cells. A heartbeat that is erratic is referred to as an arrhythmia. elevated blood pressure, heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes.

Key Takeaways

Scientists don’t have all the answers yet as to what causes heart defects other than random gene mutations. But, there are things that place you at higher risk (smoking, alcohol, certain medications, etc.) and these should be avoided during pregnancy. There are otherwise no proven strategies to prevent CHD. So you should follow your healthcare provider’s instructions during pregnancy as above. Talk to them about congenital heart disease prevention. 

Learn more about Congenital Heart Disease here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Lauren Labrador, MD, FPCP, DPCC


Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Sep 01, 2022

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