A congenital heart defect is a heart problem that has been there since the time of birth and is one of the most common types of birth defects. Congenital heart defects can affect the blood vessels in the heart, the walls of the heart, or the valves of the heart.
Types Of Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital heart defects can be of various types; some don’t cause any problems while others can lead to complications. Congenital heart defects are related to heart wall defects, heart valve defects, and blood vessel defects. While there are more than 18 types of congenital heart defects, the following are some of the popular types:
- Ventricular septal defect or VSD
- Hole in the heart
- Atrial septal defect or ASD
- Valve defects
- Complete atrioventricular canal defect or CAVC
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- D-transposition of the great arteries
- Truncus arteriosus
- Patent ductus arteriosus or PDA
- I-transposition of the great arteries
Causes And Symptoms
Congenital heart defects are caused when the structure of the heart is not developed properly early on. The congenital heart defect affects how the blood flows through the heart, which in turn, may affect breathing. The causes of congenital heart defects are as follows:
- Illegal drugs or alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to a child having a congenital heart defect.
- If there is a history of heart defects in the family then that could be a cause.
- If a pregnant woman has a viral infection during the start of her pregnancy then there are higher chances that the child will have a congenital heart defect.
- A spike in blood sugar levels can lead to congenital heart disease.
- Intake of certain drugs during the course of pregnancy may result in the child will have a congenital heart defect.
Following are the symptoms of congenital heart disease that shows in Newborns:
- Very low weight at birth
- Blue fingers, lips, toes, and skin
- Slow growth compared to normal
- Difficulty during feeding
- Inability to breathe properly
- Pain in the chest
Adults show the following symptoms of congenital heart disease
- Difficulty in breathing
- Getting tired very easily
- Chest pain that doesn’t go away quickly
- Inability to exercise like usual
Some children do not exhibit congenital heart defect symptoms early on after birth. They may show symptoms after a few years. These include swelling, dizziness, tiredness, inability to breathe, feeling dizzy, and abnormal heart rhythms.
Treatment Options Available: Is Surgery Needed?
There are numerous treatment options for congenital heart defects but these depend on how severe the problem is. For some people, treatment might not be necessary initially but monitoring of the condition might be necessary. For other people, surgery or medications might be required to treat the problem at hand.
Sometimes, if a congenital heart defect was treated in childhood can come back during adulthood, due to the original treatment not working anymore. Treatment may not always cure the problem but will enable you to lead a happy and healthy life.
Your doctor might prescribe medicines that enable proper heart function and eliminate the chances of blood clot formation or to have a pacemaker implanted to normalize your heart rate. Else, he may recommend implantable cardioverter defibrillators or ICDs. You might require open-heart surgery for blood vessel widening or heart valve repair. Another treatment option is a catheter procedure that involves using a thin tube instead of making an incision to treat a particular congenital heart defect. You might require a heart transplant surgery if complications occur although this is rare.
Road To Recovery
You should continue to see your doctor after treatment has been completed so that you get proper follow-up care that is important for a speedy recovery. Depending on the treatment you receive, your doctor will inform you about how long the recovery will take and how you can take proper care of yourself. If you have undergone a surgery, then you might need some months to fully recover. Make sure you ask your doctor about what you can safely do and what you should avoid doing while recovering from the treatment.
Lifestyle Changes To Adopt
If you are pregnant at present or if you are planning on becoming pregnant then it is important that you make some changes to ensure your child does not have any congenital heart defects. You should avoid consuming alcohol and you should not take illegal drugs as these can have a negative impact. You should keep your blood sugar levels in control. If you have diabetes then you should speak to your doctor about managing diabetes. You should take measures to prevent getting German measles if you haven’t been vaccinated for it. You can talk to your doctor about other lifestyle changes you can adopt.