February is American Heart Month, which is a time to pay attention to understanding, preventing, and treating heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the nation. 

Heart disease has long been the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming nearly 700,000 lives a year. One person dies every 34 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease, according to the CDC. 

Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) Awareness Week runs from Feb.7-14 to recognize children born with heart defects. This week also highlights treatments and advancements. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Congenital Heart Defects are present at birth and can affect the structure of a baby’s heart and how it works.CHDs can vary from mild (such as a small hole in the heart) to severe (such as missing or poorly formed parts of the heart).

About one in four babies born with a heart defect has a “critical CHD.” Those babies need surgery or other procedures by the time they turn 1-year-old, according to the CDC.

According to the CDC, signs and symptoms of CHDs depend on the type and severity of the particular defect. Some defects might have few or no signs or symptoms. Others might cause a baby to have the following symptoms:

  • Blue-tinted nails or lips
  • Fast or troubled breathing
  • Tiredness when feeding
  • Sleepiness

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