Advances in surgery and medication mean that more and more children born with heart defects are surviving. In addition, minor congenital heart defects that don't cause symptoms may not be diagnosed until a person is an adult or reaches middle age. It is estimated that 20,000 people with congenital heart disease reach adulthood every year in the United States.
Because people born with defects are most likely to pass on these defects to their children, it is likely that the prevalence of adults living with chronic defects will increase.
For some people with mild levels of disease, the only treatment necessary may be regular monitoring of the defect and extra precautions against infection during surgical or dental procedures. For others, treatment may range through various medication therapies up through heart and lung transplantation.