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Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week is February 7-14

(CBS4)- February 7-14 is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. Congenital heart defects, also known as holes in the heart, are the most common type of birth defects.

On CBS News Colorado, we talked to Dr. Immanuel Turner, the Chief of Pediatric Heart Surgery at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. He says many times these defects are detected during pregnancy via ultrasound. Dr. Turner says genetics, smoking, and drinking can cause congenital heart defects, however there is still a lot unknown about what causes them.

"Many times, parents ask me, 'what could I have done differently?' I reassure them there's nothing that you did, this is just a very complex component of how the body develops, and there are a lot of different factors that can cause these defects."

(credit: CBS)

After birth, infants with heart defects will be referred to a cardiologist to keep an eye on the defect and surgery may be required. It's also possible those born with a congenital heart defect may require surgery later in life.

"The highest population of congenital heart disease patients are actually adults. They are survivors in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. So now, we look at this as a chronic disease that people are living with, who require monitoring and surveillance throughout their lives."

Dr. Turner urges anyone living with a congenital heart defect, who may have put off their checkup due to the pandemic, to schedule an appointment with their primary care provider as soon as possible.

heartbeat monitor EKG
(credit: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

"Those are the people we want to make sure get in to see our adult congenital heart-trained experts to make sure things are appropriate and they don't need additional medical management or even surgery."

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