All You Need to Know About Congenital Heart Disease

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Congenital heart disease is a term used to define a group of different kinds of conditions that affect the heart. These problems will begin to affect the baby’s heart during while the baby is in the womb. Congenital heart disease is categorized to know the problems that baby may experience. And they are

Problems that cause too much blood to pass through the lungs

These types of congenital heart defect cause increased pressure and stress in the lungs.

  • Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)

Patent ductus arteriosus is often noticed in premature infants. This defect causes blood to mix between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. While the baby is in the womb, there will be an open passageway between the aorta and the pulmonary artery and this open passageway must close after birth. When this open passageway does not close, some blood returns to the lungs causing Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).

  • Atrial septal defect

The atrial septal defect causes abnormal blood flow through the heart due to an abnormal opening between the right and left atria (two upper chambers of the heart).

  • Ventricular septal defect

The ventricular septal defect causes the blood from the left ventricle to flows back into the right ventricle (due to higher pressure in the left ventricle) because of an abnormal opening between the right and left ventricles (two lower chambers of the heart). This abnormal blood flow often creates congestion in the lungs.

  • Atrioventricular canal (AVC or AV canal)

Atrioventricular canal is called for complex heart problems that include several abnormalities of structures inside the heart. These structural abnormalities include atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, and improperly formed mitral and/or tricuspid valves.

Problems that cause too little blood to pass through the lungs

These heart problems don’t allow oxygen-rich blood to flow throughout the body causing the baby to appear in blue in colour (cyanotic)

  • Tricuspid atresia – There won’t be any blood flow from right atrium to the right ventricle due to the absence of tricuspid valve
  • Pulmonary atresia – In this condition pulmonary valve is underdeveloped and pulmonary atresia is a very complicated congenital heart disease
  • Transposition of the great arteries - Transposition of the great arteries is due to the reverse positions of the pulmonary artery and the aorta
  • Tetralogy of Fallot - Tetralogy of Fallot is due to four defects
  1. ventricular septal defect;
  2. A Stenosis (narrowing) at or just beneath the pulmonary valve that blocks the flow of blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs;
  3. A right ventricle that is more muscular than normal and often enlarged;
  4. An aorta that lies directly over the ventricular septal defect.
  • Double outlet right ventricle – In this condition, the pulmonary artery, and the aorta are connected to the right ventricle.
  • Truncus arteriosus - In this condition, the pulmonary artery and the aorta start as a single blood vessel, which will later divide and become two separate arteries. Truncus arteriosus happens when the single great vessel fails to separate completely, leaving a connection between the aorta and pulmonary artery.

Problems that cause too little blood to travel to the body

Body won’t get sufficient amount of blood due to these heart defects (underdeveloped chambers of the heart or blockages in blood vessels)

  • Coarctation of the aorta (CoA) – Blood flow to the lower part of the body is obstructed due to narrowing (constricted) of aorta creating increased blood pressure above the constriction.
  • Aortic stenosis (AS) – aortic valve is not properly formed or may be narrowed causing problems in blood flow to the body
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) – this is due to a combination of several abnormalities of great blood vessels and heart. 

Causes for congenital heart disease

Most of the reasons are unknown. Some of them are due to

  1. Genetic problems
  2. Medications (anti-seizure medicines) taken by mom for some disease while pregnant

Testing and diagnosis for congenital heart disease

Pediatric cardiologist will prescribe for

  1. Fetal echocardiogram
  2. Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  3. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  4. Cardiac catheterization

Treatments for congenital heart disease

  1. Medications
  2. Cardiac surgery
  3. Cardiac catheterization

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