“He has some issues with his heart,” we often come across this statement after a baby is born, right? Congenital heart disease is defined by just that. These are the defects that we are born with and have nothing to do with our lifestyle.
Congenital heart defects can impact the heart in multiple ways. If you are wondering how, the possibilities are quite vast and severe as well.
In this article, we are going to be walking you through every risk factors of congenital heart disease and everything there is to it.
What is Congenital Heart Disease?
Congenital heart disease, as mentioned before, is the set of heart defects that we are born with. It could predominantly affect our heart walls, muscles or even the valves present in our heart, thus impairing the smooth functioning of the heart right from the get go.
Predominantly, the congenital heart disease tends to impact three parts of the heart:
- The heart walls
- The heart blood vessels
- The heart valves
Check Out These Congestive Heart Failure – Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment.
Types Of Congenital Heart Disease
When it comes down to explaining the types of congenital heart disease, the possibilities are quite well explained.
For the most part, the types of congenital heart disease, in general terms, are divided into three distinct categories.
1. When it Affects the Heart Valves:
The first case scenario is when the condition impacts the heart valves. In such conditions, the valves that is present in the heart to regulate the inflow and outflow of blood into and out of the heart end up being dysfunctional. It has been witnessed to end up either leaking the blood flow or not able to close properly.
2. When it Affects the Heart Wall:
Our heart is made of four distinct chambers, two atriums and two ventricles which are separated by muscular linings. In this type of congenital heart disease, it has been found that the heart tends to be affected owing to the fact that the walls may not develop properly. What this does is end up causing blood pooling in the heart or in places where it should not be present.
3. When it affects the blood vessels:
Last and one of the most crucial types of the congenital heart diseases is the one where it directly impacts the blood vessels. In this, the blood vessels like the arteries and the veins which carry blood in and out of the heart tends to not work properly. In this condition, there are varying chances for the blood to flow back which could be responsible for several complications.
In medical terms, the types have been categorized under two types:
- Cyanotic heart disease
- Acyanotic heart disease
Both of these conditions are described to be one in which the heart does not pump the blood as efficiently it normally should. If you are wondering what the difference between the two is, cyanotic heart condition is the one characterized by the lack of oxygen in the body while the same is not the case with the acyanotic heart disease.
Majority of the times, the babies who do suffer from the prior have a bluish tint to their skin because of the lack of oxygen in their body while the same is not the case with the acyanotic disease because the oxygen levels are well maintained in this prospect.
Causes Of Congenital Heart Disease
The causes for congenital heart disease can be influenced because of a number of reasons. It has been witnessed with a number of people that the condition gets detected after they are born and while they do lead a very normal life in the childhood, the same recurs back during the adulthood again.
The researchers are still on the lookout for the perfect reasoning behind the labored growth of the heart and the associated problems that come along with the same.
That being said, some of the common causes enhancing the risk factors for congenital heart diseases include:
- Hereditary conditions associated with the functioning of the heart that runs in the family
- Intake of a few prescription drugs during the pregnancy term
- Been infected with a viral infestation like rubella in the first trimester of the pregnancy
- Consumption of alcohol and smoking during pregnancy
- Impaired levels of blood sugar in the body during the term of pregnancy
- Gene and chromosomal defects like that in the Down Syndrome
Why does the condition resurface during the adult stages in life?
It has been seen in a number of times that the heart conditions tend to impact the affected people in the later part of their life, instead of being predominant during their childhood when the same has been primarily detected.
Tending to the impairments during the childhood tends to be a temporary cure for the conditions related to the congenital heart disease but the same is not necessarily the foolproof answer for the same.
There are possibilities that even when you do end up getting the proper treatment for congenital heart disease in childhood, the same might end up affecting you later in life. The problems associated with the heart can worsen and the same is actually quite possible and not a myth that many tend to think it as.
Development of the scar tissues in the heart is often believed to be one of the most common examples of such conditions which tend to worsen with time and could be a very potent contributor to the condition of arrhythmia.
Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease
The detection of the symptoms of congenital heart disease is often detected right during when the kid is in the womb of the expecting mother.
The ultrasound of the pregnant belly can showcase signs of labored heartbeats and irregular rhythm which could be a very potent contributing factor in detecting the problem.
If the doctor does find any kind of mismatch and possible signs of defects, they will carry forth with some other forms of tests like MRI, echocardiogram, chest x-ray and such.
Some of the common congenital heart diseases symptoms which are witnessed in the newborns include:
- The appearance of a bluish tint on the lips, skin, fingers and even the nose
- Labored breathing with sounds of wheezing
- Low birth weight
- Mothers facing problems feeding the babies
- Chest pain in the babies
- Delayed growth in them
Some of the common symptoms which are prevalent at a later stage in life include:
- Persistent signs of dizziness and weakness
- Labored breathing
- Abnormal and irregular heart rhythms
- Fainting and becoming unconscious
- Swelling in certain parts of the body
- Fatigue and tiredness even without any hardcore labour
Diagnosis of Congenital Heart Disease
When it comes down to explaining the diagnosis for the congenital heart disease, there are a number of ways in which the doctor detects the same.
There are a number of tests that need to be conducted, before as well as after the baby is born.
For the most part, doctors are able to detect and distinguish the problem and the congenital heart defects right when the baby is in the womb.
Following their birth, some of the possible tests that the babies need to undergo include:
Echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound which provides with varying results in knowing any kind of impairments with the heart functions. This helps in seeing the problems and detecting where the problem predominantly lies as well.
2. Electrocardiogram (ECG)
Electrocardiogram is significant in knowing and recording the electrical activity of the heart. Any kind of defects and issues with the heart activity can be witnessed in the recording itself which is something that does help in getting a track of the problems and the site which is affected.
3. Cardiac catheterization
Last but not least on the major diagnostic tests is the cardiac catheterization. In this process, the doctor inserts a catheter, which is a flexible tube inside the blood vessel of your arm or leg and then put dye to detect the heart functions and see the inside of the heart via an x-ray.
Congenital Heart Disease Treatment
Congenital heart defects vary from person to person. While some defects are minor and heal with time, some severe conditions do require quite an extensive amount of tending to and treatment to keep the person away from risks.
Depending on the severity, some of the predominant treatment options for this include:
The primary ways to treat the risk factors of congenital heart disease include medications. It is always best to consult a doctor about the condition and follow the prescription provided with them and follow them accordingly. Majority of the drugs are meant to help in normalizing the functioning of the heart and even helping out with the prevention of the blood pooling and clots.
2. Catheter procedures
You wouldn’t realize but with the advancing medical technologies, it has been seen that direct surgeries can be avoided.
Catheter procedures on the heart to contribute to one of the best kinds of treatment for congenital heart disease. In such processes, the doctor inserts a catheter through the blood vessels in the limbs to reach to the heart after which the small tools are threaded through the catheter to tend to fix the problem associated.
3. Implantable heart devices
Implantable heart devices like that of pacemaker and defibrillators are an amazing way to make the heart function in a much more efficient way.
These devices help in rectifying problems associated with the improper heart rhythms and even the problems that the patients suffer from in terms of irregular heartbeats and such.
4. Open heart surgery
Conducting open heart surgeries aren’t easy as they come. They are often the last resort if the preliminary methods fail to work out.
If the catheter procedures to fail to work out and fix the problem, the open heart surgery is the next best option in the lot. Majority of the times, an open heart surgery is conducted to close holes in the heart, mend any kind of issues associated with the heart valves and the blood vessels as well.
5. Heart transplant
The last step in the process is to opt for a heart transplant is the heart of the patient is too weak to function even with all the treatment procedures conducted.
If the congenital heart disease symptoms are too worse to be fixed, that is when the heart transplant is the best bet for the patient’s survival.
How To Prevent Congenital Heart Disease?
People with congenital heart defects can lead a healthy life if they opt out for better precautions throughout.
But, isn’t it always better to avoid the induction of the problem altogether rather than relying on the later treatments?
Some of the preventive measures for congenital heart disease include:
1. Avoid Smoking and Alcohol
As mentioned before, the condition encircling the risk factors of congenital heart disease is mainly tied with the problems suffered during pregnancy itself.
For the best bet, it is always best suggested to steer clear off of alcohol and smoking during the term of pregnancy because the same does have the potency of hindering with the development of the heart altogether.
2. Communicate Better with the Doctor
In order to ensure that you can avoid this problem from passing on to your kids, it is quite important to ensure that you communicate well with your doctor.
If you are planning to get pregnant, it is very important that you discuss and clarify about all the medications that you are taking and see if they are safe for you and the baby.
3. Look Out for Signs of Infection
Infection is another potent risk factor when it comes to the development of congenital heart disease. Often times, infections tend to be a very common problem associated with the same.
It is very important to consult a doctor to find out if the problems are affecting the overall health of your to be born baby. Ensure to take the optimum dosage of antibiotics and get the problem swerved out of the way.
It is also very important to take care of the gums and one’s overall dental health. Preventing infections there is also quite important to keep yourself in good health.
Summarizing it all, congenital heart disease can impact your health, both during the budding ages or even during the late years in life. It is very important to pay close attention to the signs and symptoms associated around and see what turns out to be an effective way to treat the condition effectively.