Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital heart disease is the general term used to address a range of congenital disabilities that affect how the heart would normally function.
The word congenital means that it is a condition that has been present since birth. It is one of the most common congenital disabilities out there, and it affects roughly about 1 in 100 babies.
This congenital disability can affect the functionality of the heart’s walls, blood vessels, and valves. They can range in severity from a simple conditions to life-threatening complex problems.
Common Congenital Heart Diseases
Some of the defects that include the range are as follows;
Aortic Valve Stenosis
This is a severe defect of the heart as the aortic valve controls the blood flow pumped out of the heart’s main chamber to the body’s main artery is narrowed. This will affect the flow of oxygen-rich.
Coarctation of the Aorta
This is when the main artery is contracting, which results in a narrowing, meaning less blood flow. Contraction of the Aorta (CoA) can occur on its own or along with other types of heart defects.
This is a rare form of CHD. This is when the valve on the right side of the heart does not develop properly. This is called the tricuspid valve, and its function is to separate the right atrium and right ventricle.
Pulmonary Valve Stenosis
This defect is when the pulmonary valve (controls blood flow out the heart) is narrower than usual. The compromised blood flows out the right ventricle to the lungs means that the right heart pump needs to double its workload!
The wall is abnormal (septum) between the heart’s main chambers. There are two types of this defect;
Atrial Septal Defects
ASD is classified as a hole in the two collecting chambers. This means that there is an abnormally small opening between the right and left atria. This will result in extra blood flowing into the heart’s right side, making it enlarged and stretched.
Ventricular Septal Defects
VSD is a common form of congenital heart disease. This is when there is a hole between the right and left ventricles. This causes extra blood flow from the left to the right ventricle. Due to the pressure difference, this will cause excess blood to go to the lungs.
Single Ventricle Defects
A single ventricle defect is when one chamber has developed properly and the other has not. If not treated, it can cause fatality within only a few weeks after birth. There are two common single ventricle defects which are;
Hypoplastic left heart syndrome – is a rare type of congenital heart disease. This is when the left side of the heart does not develop properly and is significantly smaller than the right.
Tricuspid atresia – this is when the tricuspid heart valve has not formed properly, resulting in separation of the right side atrium and ventricle.
Causes of Congenital Heart Disease
This defect occurs when there are early developmental problems in the heart’s structure. It interferes with normal blood flow happening through the heart, which will more than likely affect breathing. It isn’t known exactly why this defect occurs in the heart, but some believe it is due to;
- The defect running in the family
- Certain prescription medication is taken during pregnancy
- Use of alcohol and drugs during pregnancy
- Mother having a viral infection in the first trimester
- Diabetes and other increased blood sugar level conditions the child may have
Sometimes, these heart defects are due to individual genes or chromosome changes. Other factors in the environment can also contribute to the heart defects, such as the mother’s diet, her health conditions, and medication used during the pregnancy.
Congenital Heart Disease Symptoms
This heart defect will sometimes only appear shortly after birth, and the newborn may experience someone or more of these congenital heart disease symptoms;
- Bluish coloration to their fingers, toes, and lips
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty in feeding
- Low birth weight
- Delayed growth
- Chest pain
In some cases, it may not be present until years after birth. These congenital heart disease symptoms may include the following;
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Difficulty breathing
Congenital Heart Disease Treatment
Your congenital heart disease treatment will differ depending on your congenital heart disease and its severity. Sometimes babies with mild defects of the heart will heal on their own. However, for more serious cases, congenital heart disease treatment will include
- Medications will help the heart work more efficiently and prevent blood clots from occurring.
- Implantable heart devices can prevent some of the complications of congenital heart disease.
- Open-heart surgery will be needed if catheter procedures are not enough to help repair the defect.
- A heart transplant could be the best option in rare cases where everything else has failed or isn’t viable.
Congenital heart disease treatment will differ from patient to patient, depending on their age and the severity of the case!
- Can I pass congenital heart disease onto my child? Studies have shown that it is possible to be passed down or more commonly occur during pregnancy due to factors involving the mother.
- How serious is congenital heart disease for children? It depends on the severity of the condition. While some can heal on their own, others may prove to be life-threatening.
- What can be expected once my child has been diagnosed? Firstly your child will be seen by specialists who run tests and do a thorough history check. If they need surgery, they will be met by a specialist in the field, and further information on what to expect will be discussed.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment. Always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!