congenital heart disease

What Are the Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease? Detailed Explanation of the Causes, Types, Treatment and Care of Congenital Heart Defects

According to the statistics of the top ten causes of death by WHO, heart disease ranks first. From the classification of heart diseases, they are roughly divided into congenital heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease and coronary heart disease; “Hello” Physician” will introduce you to the causes, symptoms, treatment and other related information of congenital heart disease.

Congenital heart disease refers to a heart structural problem that occurs when a baby is born because the baby’s heart or surrounding blood vessels have not developed normally. It is also called a congenital heart defect.

The fetal heart is actively developing in the first 6 weeks of pregnancy, and defects may occur at this time. However, due to the small size of the fetus, fetal heart defects may not be detected until the second trimester of pregnancy if you want to detect them through prenatal examination. .

Depending on the type and severity of heart congenital defects, each person’s condition is different. Some people may not develop any heart disease problems, or they may not appear until adulthood, but some people may develop symptoms immediately or have severe symptoms. Generally speaking, people with congenital heart defects have a higher risk of heart disease than ordinary people.

Causes of congenital heart disease

In a normal heart structure, there is a diaphragm or valve blocking each chamber, so the blood will flow along the correct path; in patients with congenital heart disease, heart defects such as abnormal development of the diaphragm, valves, arteries and other tissues may cause damage. Or stenosis, affecting its proper function, will cause congenital heart disease.

According to medical research, it is difficult to determine the cause of congenital heart disease, but some research statistics have found that mothers suffering from German measles (Rubella, also known as rubella), smoking or taking some drugs during pregnancy may cause congenital heart disease in the fetus.

Types of congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease can be mainly divided into two categories: cyanosis and acyanotic. The so-called cyanosis refers to the bluish-purple color of the skin caused by low blood oxygen. The blood in the veins is deoxygenated blood and is darker in color. If there is a heart defect, cyanosis will occur when the deoxygenated blood flows into the arteries and mixes with oxygenated blood.

There are many types of congenital heart disease. According to the congenital heart disease introduction of Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, Ventricular Septal Defect and Tetralogy of Fallot have the highest prevalence rates, which are 31.2% and 31.2% respectively. 22%; the types of congenital heart disease are introduced below:

  1. Cyanotic congenital heart disease:
    Fallot syndrome, tricuspid atreria, transposition of the great arteries, total abnormal pulmonary venous return (TAPVR), hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS)
  2. Acyanotic congenital heart disease:
    Patent ductus arteriosus, atrial septal defect (ASD), atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD or endocardial cushion defect ECD), ventricular septal defect (VSD), Pulmonary valve stenosis, Coarctation of the aorta

Symptoms of congenital heart disease

The presence or absence of symptoms correlates with the severity of the heart defect. For milder heart defects, patients may not have any symptoms, but as they age, the heart defects may change, and the patient may not be diagnosed with congenital heart disease until adulthood. Common symptoms of congenital heart disease include the following:

  1. Difficulty breathing, rapid breathing
  2. Swelling in the legs, abdomen, and around the eyes
  3. Swelling of hands, feet, and ankles
  4. Arrhythmia
  5. Feeling easily tired or even fainting during exercise or labor
  6. Cyanosis
  7. Baby has trouble breathing when eating

When should you seek medical help?

If you find that you have chest pain (angina), difficulty breathing, or other symptoms and signs related to congenital heart disease, or if you received treatment for congenital heart disease as a child, please seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Risk of congenital heart disease

There is no clear cause of congenital heart disease, but according to research and statistics, the following conditions may increase the risk of congenital heart disease:

  1. Mother contracted Rubella during pregnancy
  2. The mother used statins or some acne medications during pregnancy
  3. The mother smokes or drinks alcohol during pregnancy
  4. Family inheritance
  5. Down’s syndrome
  6. Diabetes

Diagnostic methods for congenital heart disease

Since heart defects can develop in babies while they are still in the mother’s belly, doctors can use fetal echocardiography to examine them. For the diagnosis of congenital heart disease in babies, young children or adults, there are mainly the following methods:

  1. Electrocardiography
  2. Chest X-ray
  3. Cardiac ultrasound
  4. Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE)
  5. Cardiac computed tomography (CT)
  6. Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cardiac MRI
  7. Cardiac catheterization
  8. Pulse oximetry
Female doctor assisting male patient while doing MRI scan in medical examination room

Complications of congenital heart disease

  1. Arrhythmia
  2. Heart infection
  3. Heart failure
  4. Pulmonary hypertension
  5. Stroke
  6. Developmental delays and learning difficulties
  7. Pulmonary embolism

Treatment and care of congenital heart disease

The severity of the heart defect is the key to deciding whether immediate treatment is needed. Some mild heart defects may not require immediate treatment, or may gradually improve as the child grows older. If the doctor determines that treatment is necessary, the following may be done Way:

  1. Drug treatment:
    Choose corresponding drug treatment according to the symptoms caused by different congenital heart diseases.
  2. Cardiac catheterization surgery:
    including balloon dilatation (Balloon angioplasty), atrial diaphragm closure, open ductus arteriosus closure, etc.
  3. Open heart surgery:
    open the chest and perform surgery directly on the heart using a scalpel or electric knife.
  4. Heart transplant:
    If the heart is severely damaged and difficult to repair, a heart transplant may be recommended.
  5. Implantable cardiac devices:
    such as pacemakers (Pacemaker) or implantable defibrillators (ICD), to improve complications caused by congenital heart disease.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator vector illustration

Depending on the situation, doctors may also use drugs to improve symptoms caused by congenital heart disease, such as blood clots or arrhythmia, etc. But for most patients, surgery or drug treatment is not a “complete cure” and requires long-term monitoring and care. Relevant care methods are as follows:

  1. Keep your distance from people with colds to avoid contagion.
  2. Pay attention to oral hygiene to avoid endocarditis infection.
  3. Carry out appropriate exercise as recommended by your doctor.
  4. Some people with congenital heart disease may need to take preventive antibiotics before surgery or tooth extraction to reduce the risk of bacterial infection.

Preventive methods for congenital heart disease

Currently, there is no 100% way to prevent congenital heart disease, but you can refer to the following risk factors to reduce the chance of heart defects. In addition, parents with congenital heart disease have a higher chance of causing the disease in their children; if you plan to have a child , please be sure to consult a physician first. Here are 6 ways to help prevent congenital heart disease:

  1. Get the German measles and influenza vaccine
  2. Avoid alcohol.
  3. Diabetics should keep their blood sugar under control.
  4. Increase your folic acid intake early in pregnancy.
  5. Please discuss with your doctor before taking medication during pregnancy.
  6. Avoid contact with organic solvents.

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