Congenital Heart Disease takes place at birth. This condition occurs when the blood vessels near the heart or the heart does not develop properly before birth. These heart defects are present in almost 1% of all live births and this condition is the most common congenital malformation amongst newborns. While there is no known cause in most cases, other causes that could cause this defect include, measles (rubella), inherited conditions like the Down Syndrome or alcohol and drug abuse during pregnancy could also be the reason.
However, today given the many medical advances in this domain, the survival rate of children born with congenital heart disease has improved tremendously. Sixty years ago less than 20% of children born with this condition reached adulthood. Today, more than 90%, even those with complex defects reach adulthood. Today, with facilities available for better quality of adult are, complications can be managed and avoided to lead a full life.
If the congenital heart defect is serious, it will become apparent, may be within a few hours, days or weeks of birth. The signs and symptoms of congenital heart disease may include:
1) Loss of skin coloration that is healthy
2) Cyanosis – Blue or pale gray skin
3) Rapid breathing
4) Swelling in abdomen, around the eyes and in the legs
5) Poor weight gain caused by shortness of breath during feedings
When the condition is less severe, the symptoms surface in early childhood, and they may be:
1) Shortness of breath during exercise or any kind of activity
2) Tiring easily during activity or exercise
3) Fluid gets filled up in the lungs or the heart
4) Swelling in feet, ankles or hands
Types of Heart Disease
There are many different kinds of congenital heart defects that are found in infants, and they could include: Holes in the heart, Obstructed Blood Flow, Abnormal blood vessels, heart valve abnormalities and a combination of these defects.
Most defects that take place are a result of problems in the child’s early heart development; there could be no cause of this sometimes. However in certain cases, environmental and some genetic risk factors could play an important role as well. They may include: German measles or rubella, diabetes, certain medications, alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy or it could be caused genetically as well.
For defects that are severe it is important that you seek out the best treatment for your child soon after the birth of your child so as to avoid serious problems in the future. In most cases if the defect is very severe it will show itself soon, and in many cases can get diagnosed during the pregnancy as well.
Some complications that can take place with congenital heart defects include: Congestive heart failure, slower growth and development, pneumonia, problems in heart rhythm, cyanosis, stroke, various emotional issues and constant treatment
Treatments and Care
It is possible that congenital heart disease has no long-term effects on the health of your child. In fact in some cases it can very well go untreated. In fact, symptoms of the same may only surface during adulthood. Some defects however, have to be treated instantly as they are found depending on the heart disease, you doctor will prescribe the treatment. Some of the treatments could involve treatment with catheters, open-heart surgery could be suggested, heart transplant and in other cases medication could do the trick.
Some children who are diagnosed with multiple heart surgeries would require long term monitoring which means a host of surgeries all through life. Parents should typically be concerned about their kids when they indulge in strenuous activity and in most cases it should be avoided. Infection prevention should be given special attention too, especially for those children who have undergone surgeries to the heart.
Diet also plays a very essential role for children who suffer from congenital heart disease. Speaking with a Registered Holistic Nutritionist can help you understand what foods can help keep the heart healthy. A homeopath too can help keep the heart strong, however, only a heart specialists advice should be followed before opting for alternate medicine.