Congenital heart disease is a kind of defect in the structure of the heart at the time of birth which affects:-

  • The heart walls 
  • Heart valves, and 
  • The blood vessels

Various types of heart defects may or may not cause symptoms of complex problems. These defects are so severe that it may alter the flow of blood through the heart. Advance treatment can help the victim to survive for an extended period of time. The signs and symptoms of such defects can occur in adults later in life. It is even the same in people who had treatment in their childhood.

What Does Stats Say About CHD?

Congenital heart disease is the most common type of congenital disabilities. The babies born such defects live a longer and healthy life. Congenital heart disease has affected nearly 1%(40,000) of birth every year in the United States.

There are different types of congenital heart disease, out of which some of them are increasing while the occurrence of other types of CHD has remained stable. The ventricular septal defect has been considered the most common type of congenital heart defect.

It has been estimated that 25% of the babies with congenital heart disease(CHD) were crucial to handle. Infants having congenital heart disease(CHD) usually have to undergo surgery or procedure during their first year of life.

Congenital heart disease is a kind of defect in the structure of the heart at the time of birth

Medical science has discovered methods with which doctors can track CHD among newborns and young children. Still, no such discovery has been made to trace the defect in the growing population of older children and adults.

In 2010, a study estimated that more than 2 million infants, children, adolescents, and adults were suffering from CHD in the United States. Reports also show that 1 million children in the U.S and about 1.4 million U.S adults have CHD. 

In the year between 1999-2006, almost 41,494 deaths occurred due to congenital heart disease(CHD) in the United States. During this time, congenital heart disease(CHD) was considered the leading cause of death for 27,960 people, as 48% of the deaths happened because of congenital heart disease(CHD).

Now medical science has developed in a way that 97% of the babies born with congenital heart disease(CHD) are expected to survive upto one year, and 95% of babies may live their life upto 18 years of age. 

This figure shows that babies born with congenital heart disease(CHD) are growing. The condition of babies born with congenital heart disease(CHD) is improving with the help of medical care.

In 3013, the hospital costs for the population having congenital heart disease(CHD) were estimated to be $6.1 billion. Congenital heart disease(CHD) had the maximum mean and median cost of the congenital disability ($79,011 and $29,886, respectively).

If a baby has congenital heart disease(CHD), he will need special care and treatment throughout his life. Therefore, kindly check with your doctor about the situation of the child to treat accordingly.

Types Of Congenital Heart Disease(CHD)

There are various types of congenital heart disease(CHD) that are categorized into three main categories:-

  • Heart valve defects: In this medical condition, the heart valves of the heart may close up or leak. This causes difficulty for the heart to pump the blood to the body.
  • Heart wall defects: It is a medical condition in which the walls between the chambers of the heart do not develop correctly, resulting in inadequate pumping of blood. Sometimes the blood flows back into the heart or in places where it should not belong. These defects apply pressure to the heart resulting in blood pressure.
  • Blood vessel defects: In this type of congenital heart disease (CHD), the arteries and veins that are responsible for circulating blood from the heart to the body will not function correctly, reducing the blood flow rate that can lead to various health complications. 

Here is the list of certain types of congenital heart disease (CHD):-

  • Atrial septal defect (ASD)
  • Atrioventricular canal defect
  • Bicuspid aortic valve
  • Coarctation of the aorta
  • Congenital mitral valve anomalies
  • Double-outlet right ventricle
  • Ebstein anomaly
  • Eisenmenger syndrome
  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
  • Long QT syndrome
  • Partial anomalous pulmonary venous return
  • Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)
  • Patent foramen ovale
  • Pulmonary atresia
  • Pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum
  • Pulmonary atresia with a ventricular septal defect
  • Pulmonary valve stenosis
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Total anomalous pulmonary venous return
  • Transposition of the great arteries
  • Tricuspid atresia
  • Truncus arteriosus
  • Vascular rings
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD)
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome

Symptoms Of Congenital Heart Disease(CHD)

The congenital heart disease symptoms may not be detected until shortly after birth. But newborn infants with heart defects might experience the following general symptoms:-

  • Lips, fingers, toes, and skin turn into bluish
  • Difficulty in breathing or breathlessness
  • Difficulting while eating
  • Low birth weight
  • Pain in chest
  • Lack of growth

In some cases, the symptoms of congenital heart disease (CHD) may not appear in their early stage but maybe indicated many years after birth. Such symptoms include:-

  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling

Also Read: What Happens In A Heart Block?

Congenital Heart Disease Causes?

The researchers aren’t sure about the cause of congenital heart disease (CHD), which develops in the womb. Researchers say that it may be caused by genetics. It occurs as a result of an early developmental problem in the heart’s structure. It mainly affects the normal flow of blood through the heart, which affects breathing. 

Although, the researchers are not sure about the cause of the congenital heart disease (CHD) but have suspected specific reasons for its origin, such as:-

  • A heart defect that may be inherited from the family members
  • Certain drugs at the time of pregnancy can also develop congenital heart disease (CHD)
  • Consumption of alcohol at the time of pregnancy can increase the risk of developing heart defects.
  • Mothers who had/have a viral infection during the initial trimester of pregnancy increase the risk of developing congenital heart disease (CHD).
  • A high level of sugar content in the blood will cause diabetes and will affect childhood development.

How Is Congenital Heart Disease(CHD) Treated?

The treatment for congenital heart disease (CHD) is dependent on the type of defect and its severity. Babies with mild defects might heal on their own with time, while for severe defects, they may require extensive treatment. Congenital heart disease treatment involves:-

  • Medications: Many drugs are responsible for increasing the efficiency of the heart. Some medicines can also be used to prevent or resolve blood clots in order to prevent irregular heartbeat.
  • Implantable Heart Devices: Some complications related to congenital heart disease (CHD) can be resolved with the help of a few devices, such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators(ICDs). These devices are used to regulate abnormal heartbeats and are responsible for correcting life-threatening irregular heartbeats, respectively.
  • Catheter Procedures: It is a technique that allows the doctor to repair specific congenital heart disease without opening the chest and heart surgically. In this treatment, the doctor will insert a thin tube into a vein in the leg that will guide it up to the heart. After placing the catheter in the correct position, the doctor will correct the defect with the help of small tools threaded to the catheter.
  • Open-Heart Surgery: It is a type of surgery that is chosen if the catheter procedure is not enough to improve the condition. The surgeon performs open-heart surgery in order to close the holes in the heart, repair heart valves, or to widen the blood vessels.
  • Heart Transplant: It is a condition in which the defect is too complicated and a heart transplant is needed. In this procedure, the child’s heart is replaced by another healthy heart by the doctor.

Adults With Congenital Heart Disease

The type of diagnosis and treatment depends on the type of congenital heart disease (CHD). It may begin immediately after birth, during childhood, or in adulthood. Some of the defects don’t show any symptoms until the child enters into adulthood, therefore delaying the diagnosis and treatment. In such cases, the signs of the newly discovered defects are as follows:-

  • Shortness in breathing
  • Pain in chest
  • Unable to perform the exercise
  • Fatigue

The treatment for congenital heart disease (CHD) in adults varies with the severity of the heart defect. Like in some cases, people need to monitor their condition carefully, and others may require medications and surgeries.

In some cases, the defects that may have been treated or diagnosed in childhood can create complications in adulthood. The natural treatment sometimes may no longer be that much effective, or the initial defect may become severe with time. Sometimes the scar tissues developed around the original repair may also cause problems, such as heart arrhythmias.

Apart from all these cases, it is essential to consult your doctor for regular checkups as treatments may not cure your condition. Still, it can help you in maintaining an active and productive lifestyle. It will also reduce the risk of severe complications, such as heart infections, stroke, and heart failure.

Preventive Measures For Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)

Here is a certain preventive measure that women should take care off while planning to get pregnant to lower the risk of developing congenital heart disease (CHD) in the newborn infants, such as:-

  • If a woman is expecting a baby, do not forget to consult the doctor about the drugs you are taking while getting pregnant.
  • At the time of pregnancy, make sure about the sugar level in your blood. It is essential to work with the doctor to manage the disease while getting pregnant.
  • Try to get vaccinated for rubella or German measles to avoid exposure to the disease and follow the instruction of the doctor to manage the condition and preventive measure while getting pregnant.
  • In case you have a family history of congenital heart disease (CHD), do not forget to ask your doctor about the general screening to prevent it as specific genes can contribute to abnormal heart development and may affect the child.

Congenital Heart Disease Risk Factors

Certain environmental and genetic factors increase the risk of having congenital heart disease (CHD), that are as follows:-

  • German measles(rubella): If an expected woman has rubella, the risk of having congenital heart disease (CHD) in the child increases.
  • Diabetes: If a woman having a baby suffers from type1 or type 2 diabetes might interfere with the development of a heart defect. But gestational diabetes usually doesn’t affect the risk of developing heart defects.
  • Medications: Consuming certain drugs at the time of pregnancy may cause congenital heart disease (CHD)and other birth defects, such as isotretinoin(Amnesteem, Claravis, others) used to treat acne and lithium used for treating bipolar disorder. Consuming alcohol while getting pregnant can also increase the risk of developing heart defects.
  • Heredity: congenital heart disease (CHD) are generally genetic and is associated with many genetic syndromes. Children having Down syndrome usually have heart defects, and these syndromes can be detected by genetic testing. It also helps in identifying other disorders during a baby’s development.
  • Smoking: Smoking while getting pregnant can increase the risk of having congenital heart disease (CHD).

Congenital Heart Disease Complications

Certain complications are related to congenital heart disease(CHD) after the initial treatment, such as:-

  • Abnormal heart rhythms(arrhythmias): Arrhythmias is a medical term used to define a condition in which the electrical impulses that coordinate heartbeats do not function properly. Severe arrhythmias can cause sudden cardiac death if left untreated.
  • Heart infection(endocarditis): The human heart consists of four chambers and four valves linked by a thin membrane known as the endocardium. The infection of this inner lining(endocardium) that occurs when bacteria or other germs may affect your bloodstream and lodge into your heart is known as Endocarditis. If it is not treated, it can damage or destroy the heart valves or trigger a stroke.

In case, you are experiencing any of the following complications:-

  • You have an artificial(prosthetic) heart valves
  • Your heart was repaired with prosthetic material
  • Your heart defect was not wholly treated 

Your doctor will prescribe you ingoing antibiotics to lower the risk of developing endocarditis.

  • Stroke: Stroke is caused due to an insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain tissue. Congenital heart disease(CHD) allows the blood clot to pass through the heart and travel to the brain. Therefore, specific congenital heart disease(CHD) may lead to a stroke.
  • Heart failure: It is also known as congestive heart failure in which the heart becomes unable to pump sufficient oxygenated blood to the body parts and not fulfilling the needed amount of oxygen. Some types of congenital heart disease may lead to heart failure.

With an increase in time, certain conditions, such as coronary artery disease or high blood pressure, can gradually sap your heart of its strength, making it too weak or too stiff to fill and pump blood efficiently.

  • Pulmonary hypertension: It is a medical condition in which the blood pressure in the lungs increases affecting the arteries in the lung. Some congenital heart disease cause more blood to flow to the lungs resulting in pressure to build and making the heart work harder. This consequently results in weakening of the heart muscles, and sometimes these walls fail to function correctly.

Heart valve problem: Some types of congenital heart disease(CHD) usually affects the valves of the heart, causing it to malfunction.

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