A congenital heart defect is just another way of saying that your heart had a problem from the time of birth.
The term congenital is used for a condition present from birth. Congenital Heart Diseases (CHD) refer to structural or functional heart diseases, which are present at birth. It is one of the most common defects in infants and children and according to World Health Organisation (WHO), it is estimated that more than two lakh babies are born with it every year in India. The burden of congenital heart disease is huge, but there are very few centres across the country capable of treating this condition.
A normal heart has valves, arteries and chambers that carry the blood in a circulatory pattern: body-heart-lungs-heartbody. When all chambers and valves work correctly, the blood is pumped through the heart, to the lungs for oxygen, back to the heart from the lungs and out to the body for the delivery of oxygen. When valves, chambers, arteries and veins are malformed, this pattern of circulation changes, leading to different types of problems.
Congenital heart defects are structural problems of the heart present at birth. The problem usually occurs during the development of the heart, due to many factors like viral illness, malnutrition, some medications, etc. Even and other causes of point mutation like radiation, that the mother may be inadvertently exposed to soon after conception, and often even before the mother is aware that she is pregnant, can lead to CHD. Defects range in severity from simple problems, such as holes between chambers of the heart, to very severe malformations, such as complete absence of one or more chambers or valves.
Understanding the Types of CHD
Most congenital heart problems are structural issues such as holes and leaky valves. For instance:
● Heart valve defects:
A valve may be too narrow or completely closed, so blood has a hard time passing through or can’t pass through at all. Alternatively, a valve might not close properly, so the blood leaks backwards.
● Problems with the heart’s walls: Blockages or holes such as those between the chambers —atria and ventricles of the heart are another CHD. Holes or passageways between the left and right side of the heart, might cause the impure and pure blood to mix together when it shouldn’t.
● Issues with the heart’s muscle: This can lead to heart failure.
● Bad connections among certain blood vessels: In babies, this may let blood that should go to the lungs to get oxygen go to other parts of the body instead, or vice versa. These defects can lead to heart failure, which means the heart doesn’t pump as efficiently as it should.
Know the Symptoms
The symptoms of congenital heart disease in infants and children may include any of the following:
● A bluish tint to the skin, fingernails, and lips. Doctors call this cyanosis.
● Fast breathing and poor feeding.
● Poor weight gain.
● Contracting frequent lung infections.
● Tire easily during play.
● And palpitations.
Treatment and Care
Although most CHD can be cured completely by timely treatment, others can only be palliated, i.e., measures taken and procedures done to make the symptoms better. It is important to get treatment at the right time, to help manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of further problems. Some congenital defects of the heart need more than one procedure or surgery to correct it.
In India, because congenital diseases are not covered by insurance many patients do not come forward for treatment. It’s important to pay attention, look out for these symptopms to ensure timely care is administered. |MB
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), it is estimated that more than two lakh babies are born with it every year in India.