A cardiac defect is an issue in the anatomy of the heart. Kids who have a heart condition have been born with it. Heart defects are often referred to as “congenital,” which implies “present at birth.” Heart defects are also frequently referred to as congenital heart disease. Knowing about your baby’s congenital heart defects will make you understand the disorder and realize what you should anticipate in the months and years to come. Cardiac defects can vary from moderate to severe. Forms of congenital heart defects are:
Aortic stenosis happens whenever the aortic valve (the valve between the aorta and the left ventricle) is too narrow, small or rigid. Signs of aortic stenosis vary based on how tiny the valve narrowing is. Some children have no symptoms of heart problems at all, while some have mild symptoms. Mild cases may not require any care. But children with much more serious aortic stenosis will require surgery to correct the aortic valve so that blood flows through the body properly.
Atrial Septal Defects
Kids with ASD are born with it. ASDs occur during the fetal development of the heart. The heart is built from a wide conduit, separated into parts that will gradually become its chambers and walls. A hole may develop in the wall that separates the left atrium from the right atrium if there is a problem during this process. In certain cases, the propensity to develop an ASD could be hereditary (genetic). Hereditary syndromes can induce missing or extra chromosomes that may be correlated with ASD. However, most ASDs do not have a specific reason. It also isn’t explicit why ASDs are more widespread in females than males. Children with more extreme aortic stenosis can show symptoms of congenital heart failure, such as weight loss, issues with eating, and breathing problems that occur soon after birth.
Coarctation of the Aorta
Unnatural blood pressure is frequently the first symptom of COA. During a physical examination, a doctor might notice that a child with coarctation seems to have a higher blood pressure in the hands than that in the legs. The doctor may also detect a heart murmur or note that the heartbeat in the groin is slow or difficult to feel. Doctors should send a child with underlying medical conditions of COA to a pediatric cardiologist (a cardiology specialist who diagnoses and treats heart problems in children). The cardiologist will listen to the child’s heart, sense their heartbeat, and monitor the blood pressure. Extreme coarctations are typically discovered soon after birth and are immediately healed by surgery.
A newborn baby with an Ebstein anomaly also has other congenital heart defects, such as an atrial septal defect (an irregular opening in between upper heart chambers) or a patent foramen ovale (PFO, a typical opening between the upper heart chambers that generally closes shortly after birth). If one of these holes is opened, the oxygen-deficient blood from the right side of the heart will escape to the left side and to the body. This contributes to a reduced level of oxygen in the blood and the bluish hue of the lip and nails. In certain children born with Ebstein anomaly, the pulmonary valve (the valve on the heart’s right side) can even be rigid (termed pulmonary stenosis) or even shut ( known as pulmonary atresia). These complications with the pulmonary valve also lead to cyanosis.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
The source of PDA is not established, but genetics may have a part to play. PDA is most common in preterm infants and impacts double as many females as males. It is also widespread in infants with neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, infants with developmental defects (like Down syndrome) and infants whose mothers suffered from rubella (also known as German measles) in pregnancy. The three medical options for PDA include medicine, catheter-based treatments, and surgical procedures. The doctor can close the PDA if the extent of the breach is wide enough for the lungs to become filled with blood, a situation that can escalate to a swollen heart.
How are these defects treated?
Children with mild heart defects might not even need any treatment. But certain babies have severe signs that need surgical or medical attention during the first year of birth. Cardiac catheterization procedures—such as valvuloplasty or balloon angioplasty —may expand the obstructed blood vessel or valve. Transcatheter device occlusion is another technique that can close irregular openings or holes in the blood vessels or heart without surgery. Some complications, such as relative small ventricular septal defects, can close or decrease as a child grows up. The child will have to take medications whilst waiting for the hole to close.
Complex defects detected early may entail a series of operations that are completed when the infant is around 3 years of age.
What happens after treatment?
Children treated for a defect (surgical or medical) will require regular consultations with a pediatric cardiologist. These visits can happen regularly at first—maybe every month or two. Later, they may be scaled down, often only once a year. Cardiologists may use instruments such as electrocardiograms (ECGs), x-rays, or echocardiograms to monitor the defect and results of treatment. Some physical activity may be restricted, but children can still play and interact with peers. Check in with the cardiologist to see which activities are OK for your child and which to skip. For eg, certain team sports might be out of bounds.
As children grow older, it’s crucial to enable them to understand how to assume responsibility for their healthcare. A younger teen may be able to complete a prescription or arrange an appointment. Older teenagers should recognize health insurance policies and learn how to access their health records. Enable an older teenager to shift from a pediatric cardiologist to a cardiology hospital for adults. He or she must take a significant interest in the selection of a new cardiologist. Motivate your child to schedule appointments, raise questions and make notes, and allocate time to talk to the doctor privately.
Lesli is a Content Writer and loves to blog about health-related articles. She enjoys learning and specializes in guest blogging, blog publishing, and social media. She is an avid reader and loves writing impeccable content pertaining to health care. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Engineering.