Adult Congenital Heart Disease


Not all adults who have congenital heart disease (CHD) will require lifelong treatment. However, for those with CHD issues that need to be treated, options for treatment generally consist of some combination of medications, interventional procedures, and surgery.


If you have CHD, your doctor will likely treat you with a variety of medications.

Medication Type


ACE-inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) (Prinivil, Altace, Capoten, Accupril, Vasotec, Avapro, Diovan, Cozaar, Benicar, Edarbi)

To lower blood pressure and help the heart remodel and improve heart function

Antiarrhythmics (Sotalol, Digoxin, Amiodarone)

To treat irregular heartbeats

Anticoagulants (Coumadin, Pradaxa, Xarelto)

To reduce the blood’s ability to clot and decrease the risk for stroke

Antiplatelet agents (Plavix, Brilinta, Effient)

To thin the blood and help prevent and dissolve clots, especially in arteries and stents

Beta-blockers (Lopressor, Coreg, Bystolic, Tenormin, Zebeta)

To lower blood pressure and heart rate, thus reducing oxygen demands on the heart and the incidence of abnormal heart rhythms

Diuretics (Lasix, Diuril)

To help reduce fluid accumulation in your body by increasing fluid loss through urination

Endothelin Receptor Antagonists (Bosentan)

To treat elevated pressure in the lung arteries (pulmonary arterial hypertension) and help relax the blood vessels in the lungs

Phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors (e.g. sildenafil, tadalafil)

To treat elevated pressure in the lung arteries (pulmonary arterial hypertension) and help relax the blood vessels in the lungs, and to treat erectile dysfunction

Interventional procedures

In the past 25 years or so, the treatment of congenital heart disease has been revolutionized by introducing less invasive interventional procedures. During an interventional procedure, an interventional cardiologist inserts a catheter through a small puncture site in the skin and advances it through a blood vessel to the heart. These procedures include the following:

  • Angioplasty and stenting
  • Catheter-based valve implantation
  • Closing holes in the heart
  • Fetal interventions
  • Hybrid interventions
  • Opening narrow valves (valvuloplasty)


Some heart defects require repairs that can only be made through open-heart surgery. Sometimes, repairs can be made in a single surgical procedure. Other times, a series of operations may be needed. It all depends on the type and severity of the heart defect and how sick the person is.

Specialized centers

Because of the increasing numbers of adults living with CHD, specialized centers have been developed around the U.S. and worldwide to provide comprehensive care. At these centers, adults who have CHD are seen by specialists to manage their needs. If you are an adult with CHD, these doctors can not only help you with medical issues but are also trained to discuss other important concerns, such as lifestyle impacts from CHD and additional noncardiac medical issues.