Congenital heart disease: Causes, description, Treatment

Chest | Cardiology | Congenital heart disease (Disease)

Congenital heart disease: Description

A person that suffers of congenital heart disease is born with an abnormal heart. Structural defects of the heart can occur during babys development in the womb. These heart defects can involve any portion of the heart including the valves of the heart, the walls of the heart and the arteries and veins of the heart. The defects can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart, and prevent the baby from getting enough oxygen. Babies may not show signs of these problems immediately after birth but can begin having symptoms after the baby goes home from the hospital. Some heart defects can be very serious and even result in death. The abnormality of the heart may involve the structure of the heart, or the abnormality may involve the electrical impulses that stimulate the heart to beat.

Signs and symptoms are related to the type and severity of the heart defect. Symptoms frequently present early in life, but its possible for some CHDs to go undetected throughout life. Some children have no signs while others may exhibit them.

Heart problems may cause a variety of symptoms in babies, including:
(1) Shortness of breath – this might be due to a build-up of fluid in the lungs.
(2) Difficulty feeding – this may occur because the baby is having trouble breathing.
(3) Blue lips and skin – some heart defects can lead to mixing of blue (oxygen depleted) blood from the veins and the red (oxygen rich) blood from the lungs. This may produce a bluish color of the lips and skin, called ‘cyanosis’.

Causes and Risk factors

A person that suffers of congenital heart disease is born with an abnormal heart. Structural defects of the heart can occur during babys development in the womb. These heart defects can involve any portion of the heart including the valves of the heart, the walls of the heart and the arteries and veins of the heart. The defects can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart, and prevent the baby from getting enough oxygen. Babies may not show signs of these problems immediately after birth but can begin having symptoms after the baby goes home from the hospital. Some heart defects can be very serious and even result in death. The abnormality of the heart may involve the structure of the heart, or the abnormality may involve the electrical impulses that stimulate the heart to beat. Examples of congenital heart disease include ventricular septal defect, atrial septal defect, tetralogy of Fallot, and patent ductus arteriosus.

Congenital heart disease: Treatment and Diagnosis

Many congenital heart defects can be diagnosed prenatally by fetal echocardiography. This is a test which can be done during the second trimester of pregnancy, when the woman is about 18 – 24 weeks pregnant.

Although many children with congenital heart defects dont need treatment, some do. Doctors treat congenital heart defects with procedures using catheters to repair the defect, surgery to repair the defect

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