Congenital Heart Disease - What You Need to Know
One of the leading birth-defect diseases in children is congenital heart disease, also known as a congenital heart defect. Congenital means a disorder present at birth. It is as a result of malformation of the heart or its blood vessels before birth.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), in the US alone, about 40,000 children are born with congenital heart disease. The figure translates to 1% of children born with heart defects every year.
In Canada, the disease ratio against other congenital disabilities is 1 to 80 or 100 children.
The figures signify that congenital heart disease is a challenge to researchers and scientists in finding a solution on how to curb it.
What is Congenital Heart Disease?
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is an abnormal growth in some parts of the heart in the unborn child. It can lead to a structural problem of the heart or a heart defect. The types of congenital heart disease vary with the condition and position of the disorder. Some cases can be severe and life-threatening, while others are simple, with no symptoms.
It does not necessarily mean that the disease can lead to childhood death. A child can survive the condition to grow into adulthood without any symptoms.
Some of the congenital heart defects might not need any immediate treatment or surgery but would require a doctor's close follow up. The complicated cases may require medical attention and probably surgery in a few weeks or a few months after birth.
Pediatric cardiology has tremendously changed within the last few decades due to advanced diagnosis as early as the fetus stage and also the improved treatment at the neonatal stage. The advancing treatment has increased the survival scope in children born with heart defects.
If your child has a heart defect, you need to read and understand congenital heart disease to know what to expect and what to do.Enter your text here ...
Types of Congenital Heart Disease
The congenital heart disease is of different kinds due to the location of the defect in the heart. It can happen in three areas of the heart as follows:
- The walls of the heart
- The heart blood vessels
- The heart valves
Some of the common types of congenital heart disease are:
Atrial Septal Defect.
The defect is a hole in the heart wall, which is between the two heart's upper chambers called atria. The disorder can cause blood in the left atrium, meant for the body circulation to flow into the back to the right atrium. The oxygenated blood then mixes with the deoxygenated blood, which flows back into the lungs.
The defect can then cause lung overload and insufficient blood supply in the body. If the disorder is not a complicated case, it can correct itself within the child's growth in childhood.
Ventricular Septal Defect
VSD is a defect in the heart wall with a hole in the middle of the two lower chambers or ventricles. Some VSD cases can have a pin-size opening, while others can have a large one to appear as if the two ventricles are joined as one. The extreme case can cause other diseases such as congestive heart failure.
Single Ventricle Defect
Single ventricle defect can involve different kinds of conditions, such as having one weak ventricle. It can lead to a single functional pumping chamber instead of both. Single working ventricle can cause deoxygenated blood to mix with oxygenated blood. The defect can cause cyanotic (blue color) because of the poor circulation of oxygen in the body.
Complete Atrioventricular Canal Defect (CAVC)
The CAVC is a severe congenital heart defect. The heart, in this case, has a large hole at the center where the atria (upper chambers) meet the ventricles (lower chambers). The defect results in the mixing of deoxygenated blood and the oxygen-rich blood and hence cause lung overload.
Pulmonary Valve Stenosis
The defect, which is the most common of all other types of congenital heart disease, can cause a strained pulmonary valve. The pulmonary valve opens for the blood to flow from the right ventricle to the pulmonary arteries. A deformity near the valve can press on it, constraining free blood flow through the valve.
Aortic Valve Stenosis (AVS)
The defect is the stiffness or narrowing of the aortic valve preventing it from opening wide enough. The aortic valve controls the blood while flowing to the left ventricle for body circulation. The poor-working valve can cause:
- Heart failure
- Damage the heart muscles
- Enlarge left ventricle
- Insufficient blood in the body
What Causes Congenital Heart Defect
It is challenging to point out what causes heart defects exactly. Scientists and researchers are working hard to establish the root cause of congenital heart defects. However, some of the suspected causes of the disease are:
- Hereditary and family history
- Viral infection to the mother probably in the pregnancy's first trimester
- Alcohol abuse during pregnancy
- Some prescriptions to an expectant mother can risk congenital heart defect in a child
- Diabetic mother or blood sugar increase during pregnancy
- Smoking during pregnancy can risk congenital heart disease to the unborn child
How then can you know that your child has a congenital heart defect?
Your doctor can help you know the condition of your child's heart as early as at birth or the fetus stage by noting some symptoms.
Congenital Heart Defect Symptoms
A child born with the congenital heart defect may have the following signs at birth:
- Bluish lips, toes, fingers, and the skin
- Trouble breathing or being breathless
- Difficulty in feeding
- Low birth weight
Congenital Heart Disease in Adults
Some cases may not reveal any symptoms in childhood until later in life. The disease can then show some signs such as:
- Delayed growth
- Frequent chest pain
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Trouble breathing
- Body swelling
Congenital Heart Disease Treatment
The congenital heart disease treatment in babies can vary with the severity of the condition. Depending on disease type, your cardiologist can choose what treatment to use.
For each case, the cardiologist makes the right decision and choice of treatment. Some of the treatments are:
Depending on the type of congenital heart disease, your doctor may prescribe the right medication. One of the medicines can be blood thinners to prevent blood clotting.
Cardiac Catheterization Procedure
With modern science and technology, doctors can repair certain heart defects without using open-chest surgery. The cardiologist can perform the procedure by using some special tools to access the heart. Catheterization procedure can access the heart through a blood vessel in the neck or leg by inserting a catheter and other devices.
The cardiologist may choose to use open-heart surgery procedures depending on the defect and the complexity. Repairing heart valves, closing up holes, correcting a blood vessel are some of the treatments that would require open-heart surgery.
For complex cases such as a defect of the ventricles or the presence of heart failure, the cardiologist can opt for a heart transplant. A heart transplant is an exchange of the defected heart with a healthy one from a donor.
Complication from Congenital Heart Disease
A simple congenital heart defect with no symptoms can be silent in childhood. The child may lead a healthy life with a non-effect in the circulatory system. However, the situation can change later in life, in the teenage or adulthood years.
The risk of developing other heart health issues from congenital heart disease is high. It is, therefore, advisable to schedule medical visits for regular heart examination and care.
Some of the heart diseases that can follow a congenital heart defect later in life are:
Arrhythmias – Abnormal rhythm of the heartbeat. The rhythm can either be slow, fast, or irregular. Arrhythmias can then lead to heart failure.
Heart failure – It is the heart failing to pump sufficient blood for circulation in the body. Aortic valve stenosis is one type of congenital heart disease that can cause heart failure. The stiffness or narrowing of the valve prevents enough blood supply to the body.
Pulmonary hypertension – Pulmonary hypertension is also known as "mean pulmonary arterial pressure." A ventricular septal defect is one type of congenital heart disease that can cause pulmonary hypertension. The hole in the wall can pass oxygenated blood back to the lungs through the left ventricle causing pulmonary hypertension.
Preventing Congenital Heart Disease
If you are planning for pregnancy, you should take the following precautions first. Some of the safety measures can lower the chances of congenital heart disease to the unborn child.
While the research continues to advance the prevention and treatment of congenital heart disease, it is your responsibility to take care of your health. The unborn child has the right to live and a right to a healthy heart.
Avoid exposure to infections or viruses if you can. Get vaccinated against some of the diseases such as rubella (German measles) and others before pregnancy. Manage your diabetes if you have diabetes. Seek help from your doctor for a customized program to strictly manage diabetes.
Go for genetic screening if you suspect a family history of congenital heart disease. You may also seek doctor's advice if you are on the specific medication, whether prescribed or over-the-counter.
Quit smoking, avoid using illegal drugs, and stop alcohol before and when pregnant.
Congenital Heart Disease Complementary and Alternative Therapy
There are various alternative treatments for heart health issues. However, you may require consulting your health practitioner for the best therapy and advice. The following are some of the recommendations from our natural health practitioner, Yvonne Dollar Perc.
We do DNA health testing,which could help detect this potential and many others. If you are concerned that you might have the possibility, then give us a call, and we can set up a DNA health assessment test. There are 2 Genes involved in promoting heart health. The Gene MTRR and the ApoB are critical factors in Heart Health, especially with fatty and cholesterol deposits.
Key Genes: ApoB
Healthy LDL Cholesterol Gene or ApoBrs693
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE ApoB GENE?
The ApoB gene helps support a healthy heartby maintaining healthy cholesterol levels already inthe normal range.ApoB Gene Regulates ApoB, the main component of LDL. Without ApoB, LDL cannot form. LDL levels in the Healthy range are associated with good Cardiovascular Health.
Key Genes: MTRR
Homocysteine/Healthy Heart Gene or MTRR rs1801394
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE MTRR GENE?
The MTRR gene encodes for the MTRR enzyme, which specifically supports cardiovascular health by regulating homocysteine levels.
Live Blood Testing
We do Live Blood Analysis and look at dry blood samples specifically.
Blistering: Observed in Layer(s)
A localized area in the sample that appears raised/bulging. This pattern is connected to cardiovascular health challenges, including circulation problems, stress on the heart, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, narrowing of blood vessels, etc. We can also see crystals in the blood plasma.
Large, trapezoidal structures that are semi-opaque. These crystals may cause circulatory hindrances and may be associated with high serum cholesterol, atherosclerosis, and possible high saturated fat intake.Enter your text here ...
The following are our recommendations for a healthy heart.
Rejuvenaid, 30 Packets - Helps to maintain proper muscle function and tissue formation and to form red blood cells, supports energy production, and helps to maintain heart muscle function.
CoQ10-100 mg (60 Softgels) - Helps to maintain and/or support cardiovascular health. Many Co-Q10 products are marketed in a crystalline state, a form in which the coenzyme's absorbability is far less than ideal. Nature's Sunshine uses a patented lipid blend to keep Co-Q10 from crystallizing, and it yields maximum bioavailability.
Hawthorn, 100 Capsules - Traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to help maintain and support cardiovascular health dating back as far as the 17th century.
With the advanced treatment and technology, congenital heart disease is treatable and manageable. Although treating some types of heart defects can involve open-heart surgery, the mortality rate from the disorder has reduced.
Children born with congenital heart disease can now live to be adults, unlike before when the mortality rate of the disease was high. However, no matter the treatment, you must observe strict regular medical visits for heart care.
Stay tuned to our next article on the health of your heart? Visit Island HealthWorks, for more articles like this one on various topics.
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Editor: Yvonne Dollard Perc
Research Assistant: Elizabeth Njuguna
Designer: Sherry Robb
Yvonne offers in-person and virtual consultations with assessment of your specific needs, health and lifestyle coaching, and the best of integrative natural health care. To book your in person consultation, please call 250-468-7685!
This article is intended for educational purposes and the information contained within is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease or health problem. Please seek appropriate medical attention for any health complaints. We cannot take responsibility for your health care decisions. Our intent is only to offer health information to help you with your search for better health.