Congenital Heart Defects
A congenital heart defect is a heart abnormality, usually a problem with the heart structure which is present at birth. There could be a problem with the walls of the heart, valves, or arteries. There are many types of congenital heart defects. Some are simple conditions with no symptoms and don’t usually need treatment while there are also complex or severe heart defects with life-threatening symptoms that require intensive treatments.
Congenital heart defects in children and parents
This can be inherited by children from their parents. A baby can inherit genetic health conditions from one or both parents. Certain types of congenital heart disease run in families and are inherited by offspring.
Congenital Heart Defects Symptoms
Severe defects are usually noticed soon after a baby is born. Some may be noticed during the first few months following the birth of a baby.
Symptoms that may appear include:
- The lips, tongue, or fingernails will turn pale gray or blue
- Rapid breathing or trouble breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Feeding difficulty leading to poor weight gain
- Delayed growth
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Chest pain
- Swelling in the legs, abdomen, or areas surrounding the eyes
- Swelling in parts of the body including the hands, ankles, and feet
- Fatigue or tiredness
Congenital heart defect occurs due to an early developmental problem in the structure of the heart. This problem in the heart’s structure interferes with the normal blood flow through the heart.
Although researchers aren’t sure what exactly causes most of these heart defects, they suspect that factors such as genetics, certain medical conditions, viral infection, using certain medications, and environmental or lifestyle factors, such as drinking alcohol and smoking during pregnancy may play a role.
Some heart defects can be detected even before a child is born. Your doctor may hear a heart sound (murmur) by using a stethoscope to listen to the heartbeat of the child.
Various tests may be conducted for proper diagnosis. Tests that may be conducted include:
1. Chest X-ray
A chest X-ray will show if the heart is enlarged, or if the lungs contain extra blood or other fluid. Any of these could be a sign of a heart defect.
2. Pulse oximetry
This test records the amount of oxygen in the blood. If there is too little oxygen in the blood, it could be a sign of a heart or lung defect.
This Echocardiogram test creates images of the heart in motion. It shows the flow of blood through the heart and valves.
This test is used to check the heart rhythms.
5. Heart magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
This test is used to diagnose and evaluate congenital heart defects in adolescents and adults. It displays 3D images of the heart.
6. Cardiac catheterization
This test helps to provide detailed information on blood flow through the heart and how the heart works.
Congenital Heart Defects Treatment in Waco, TX
Treatment depends on the specific type of heart problem and the severity of the heart problem. A simple congenital heart defect with no symptoms may not require treatment. They may resolve on their own. Serious congenital heart defects with symptoms require timely treatment.
Treatment options include:
Medications may be used alone or in combination with a heart procedure. Medications that may be prescribed include:
1. Blood pressure drugs
Blood pressure drugs such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and beta-blockers help to reduce and normalize your blood pressure.
Diuretics, also known as water pills help to reduce the amount of fluid in your body.
3. Heart rhythm drugs
Anti-arrhythmic drugs help to control irregular heartbeats.
4. Blood thinners
These medications help to prevent blood clots.
Severe congenital heart defect may require surgery. Surgical procedures include:
1. Cardiac Catheterization
This procedure is used to repair or fix some forms of defects without open-heart surgery. This procedure involves inserting one or more catheters into an artery through to the heart. Some small tools are passed through the catheter to the heart to repair the heart defect.
2. Implantable Heart Devices
Implantable heart devices such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) can be used to prevent some of the complications associated with congenital heart problems. A pacemaker can be used to regulate an abnormal heart rate while ICDs can help correct life-threatening irregular heartbeats.
3. Open-Heart Surgery
Open-heart surgery may be needed in severe cases where catheter procedures aren’t enough to repair a congenital heart defect. Open-heart surgery may be performed to close holes in the heart, repair heart valves, or widen blood vessels.
4. Heart Transplant
When a congenital heart problem is too complex to fix, a heart transplant may be required. The defected heart will be replaced with a healthy heart from a donor.
Types of congenital heart defects
There are many types of congenital heart defects. These include:
- Aortic stenosis
- Atrial septal defect
- Atrioventricular canal defect.
- Coarctation of the aorta
- Ebstein anomaly
- Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
- Patent ductus arteriosus
- Patent foramen ovale
- Bicuspid aortic valve
- Congenital mitral valve anomalies
- Double-outlet right ventricle
- Eisenmenger syndrome
- Kawasaki disease
- Long QT syndrome
- Partial anomalous pulmonary venous return
- Pulmonary atresia
- 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
- Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
What is the most common congenital heart defect?
Ventricular septal defect (VSD) is the most common type of congenital heart defect.
What are some of the signs a baby may have a heart defect?
Some of the signs that a baby may have a heart defect include:
- The lips, tongue, or fingernails of the baby turn pale gray or blue
- Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath, particularly during feeding
Who is at risk for congenital heart defects?
- Are diabetic
- Have rubella (German measles) during pregnancy
- Drinking alcohol during pregnancy
- Smoking during pregnancy
- Family history and genetics
- You’re taking certain medications that may increase your baby’s risk of congenital heart defects during pregnancy. Thalidomide, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, statins, isotretinoin, some epilepsy drugs, and certain anxiety drugs can increase the risk of congenital heart defects.
Can congenital heart defects be detected on ultrasound?
Congenital heart disease can be detected during a routine ultrasound but more tests are required to achieve an accurate diagnosis.
Is congenital heart disease life-long?
Congenital heart defects usually require lifelong follow-up care. You will need to continue receiving special follow-up care way into adulthood.
Is congenital heart defect curable?
There is no available cure for congenital heart defects. Treatment is aimed at reducing your symptoms and preventing complications.
Is congenital heart defect genetic?
Yes. Some forms of congenital heart defect are inherited from either one or both parents.