Congenital heart disease which is also called a congenital heart defect is a heart abnormality present at birth which can affect the heart walls, the heart valves, and the blood vessels.
It occurs due to an early developmental problem in the heart’s structure which usually affects the normal flow of blood through the heart which may affect breathing. Research is still going on to find why the heart fails to develop correctly but here are some suspected causes such as:
There are many types of congenital heart defects, but they can be divided into three main categories:
It occurs when valves inside the heart that direct blood flow may close up or leak which causes the problem to the heart ability to pump blood correctly.
It occurs when the walls that exist between chambers of the heart may not develop correctly, causing blood to back up into the heart or to build up in places where it doesn’t belong. It puts pressure on the heart to work harder, which may result in high blood pressure.
It occurs when the arteries and veins that carry blood to the heart and back out to the body may not function correctly. This can block blood flow, leading to various health complications.
In both types, the heart doesn’t pump blood as efficiently as it should. Cyanotic Congenital Heart Disease causes low levels of oxygen in the blood while Acyanotic Congenital Heart Disease doesn’t.
In some cases, the symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease may not appear until shortly after birth. New-borns with heart defects may experience:
In some cases, the symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease may not appear until many years after birth. The symptoms include:
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The treatment of congenital heart defect depends on the severity of the defect. The mild heart defect heals on its own with time. Severe defects require extensive treatment which includes:
Several medications are used to prevent blood clots or control an irregular heartbeat.
Devices like pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are used to prevent congenital heart defects. A pacemaker is used to regulate an abnormal heart rate, and an ICD is used to correct life-threatening irregular heartbeats.
It is used to repair congenital heart defects without surgically opening the chest and heart. During catheter procedures, the doctor will insert a thin tube into a vein in the leg and guide it up to the heart.
This surgery is performed to close holes in the heart, repair heart valves, or widen blood vessels and it is done when catheter procedures aren’t enough to repair a congenital heart defect.
In the rare cases when a congenital heart defect is too complex to fix, a heart transplant may be needed.
Here are some precautions which women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant can take to reduce their risk of giving birth to a baby with a congenital heart defect:
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