Our successes with congenital heart disease

At least 4,000 babies are diagnosed in the UK each year with congenital heart disease - where heart defects develop in the womb before a baby is born. When the BHF was formed in 1961 the majority of babies born with a congenital heart condition died before their first birthday. Our research has helped to turn this around, and now 8 out of 10 babies survive to adulthood.

Protecting tiny hearts

Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub was the first BHF Professor of cardiothoracic surgery and pioneered a number of operations to correct congenital heart conditions. He developed the arterial switch operation, now used around the world to treat children with a congenital heart disease called transposition of the great arteries. During the operation, the surgeon switches the great arteries back to the position they should be in. Most children are able to lead normal lives after this operation.

Stopping short-circuits

In the 1970s, BHF Professor Robert Anderson mapped the electrical activity in healthy hearts and hearts with different congenital defects. His work means surgeons can now avoid damaging the heart’s electrical activity during surgery. This gives babies the best chance of life, by identifying and treating abnormalities as safely and as early as possible.

Find out how we're funding research into congenital heart defects, to keep more tiny hearts beating.