Contrary to popular belief, heart diseases do not only ail the older or middle-aged population, some children also suffer from heart ailments, including newborns and young children. Some children are born with an abnormal structure of their heart. This condition is called a Congenital Heart Defect.
Thankfully treatment for Congenital Heart Defects is not required for all the ailments.
However, some congenital heart defects in kids appear to be more complicated and may call for extensive interventions spread out over several years. Serious congenital heart abnormalities are frequently identified before or shortly after birth. If parents notice any signs or symptoms, they must seek timely medical help as a an accurate and prompt diagnosis coupled with the right treatment for congenital heart defects leads to a better prognosis.
Some symptoms of a Congenital Heart Defect may appear right after birth, In soe cases the symptoms do not surface till later. Many kids with heart defects, may seem healthy and will not exhibit any symptoms. Regular complete medical check-ups are therefore advised.
The visible symptoms normally occur in the first few weeks following birth. Some common signs include –
- Blue colour around the lips and blue skin (cyanosis)
- Shortness of breath
- Poor growth
- Pale skin
- Getting easily tired during an activity.
These symptoms are a result of the body getting less oxygen, either because the blood does not contain as much oxygen as usual or because the heart is not pumping as efficiently as it should.
The heart functions in a manner that two sections on each side of the body make up the heart’s four chambers, which resemble rooms. The blood is drawn from the body on the right side and sent to the lungs where it picks up oxygen from the air we breathe. Fresh blood is drawn from the lungs and transported to the rest of the body by the left side. The tubes that transport blood away from the heart are called arteries, while the tubes that bring blood back to the heart are called veins. Since it appears bright red, the blood from the lungs, which is full of oxygen, is generally referred to as red blood and due to its darker blue colour and low oxygen content, blood that has flowed from the body to the heart is referred to as blue blood.
A hole in the heart, a type of a congenital heart defect, for example, is an issue where the valves can occur in the heart’s walls sometimes- they may be too narrow or completely blocked, this indicates that the heart may not be pumping properly or that the blue and red blood may get jumbled up. The body may not get as much oxygen as usual when these issues arise.
A heart problem typically appears when the baby is still developing. It is difficult to determine the exact cause of a heart disease, a mother might have done nothing to cause it during her pregnancy, and often, doctors are unable to determine what caused the defect. Genetics can occasionally have a role in heart issues- family history of heart defects. Consult your doctor if your child experiences any of the signs of a heart defect. You will be referred to a paediatrician or paediatric cardiologist (an expert in the treatment for congenital heart defects).
The treatment of congenital heart defects varies with the severity of the defect. Children can take medications for some heart conditions that can be stopped once the condition has improved. Sometimes a child must take a medication for a long period or possibly the entire life. In some cases, the treatment for the congenital heart defect needs a surgery. Surgery may occasionally be postponed until the child is older and stronger since they can handle it better at that age and strength.
Like with all ailments, it is best to detect and start treatment where necessary at the earliest and so all medical check-ups must be taken up timely, and if symptoms are seen outside of these reports, reach out to a paediatric cardiologist at the earliest. Treatment for congenital heart defects can be expensive. Families who are unable to afford the treatment can reach out to A Congenital Heart Disease Foundation to get support.
Genesis Foundation (www.genesis-foundation.net) is a Child Heart Foundation supportingTreatment of Congenital Heart Defects.