Congenital heart disease can survive until adulthood, but it usually appears when we are born. Diseases caused by developmental problems with the structure and function of the heart that are too early, usually interfere with blood flow through the heart and interfere with breathing. With current treatments that are more sophisticated and with appropriate follow-up, many babies who nearly die from congenital heart disease can survive to adulthood.
This congenital heart disease is caused by a congenital heart defect. Often, these two terms are used interchangeably. In fact, this is a common occurrence in all babies with birth defects. Although doctors sometimes do not know the cause of a heart abnormality, it is suspected that the cause is:
- Genetics: defects inherited in the family
- Medications: some drugs taken during pregnancy can increase risks, such as anti-seizure drugs
- Alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy
- Infection: if the mother is infected with the virus in the first trimester, this can increase the risk of a child born with a heart defect
- Diabetes: can affect a child's development. Gestational diabetes has so far not been associated with congestive heart disease.
Although there are various types of congenital heart defects, there are three main categories, namely:
- Defective heart valves. The valve inside the heart that directs the blood flow can close or leak so that the heart cannot pump blood properly.
- Heart wall defects. The wall between the left and right spaces and the top and bottom in the heart does not develop properly, so that blood flows back into the heart or flows to where it should not. This defect makes the heart have to work extra and can cause high blood pressure.
- Vascular defects. Arteries and veins do not function properly which results in blood flow being blocked or slowing.
Many doctors classify congestive heart disorders in two types: those caused by low levels of oxygen and those that don't. Babies who suffer from shortness of breath or if their skin turns bluish, means that the baby does not get enough blood because the heart does not pump properly. This is called "cyanotic heart disease". Babies who get enough oxygen but then suffer from high blood pressure or signs of heart working too hard means babies have "asianotic heart disease".
What are the symptoms and risk factors for congenital heart disease?
Congenital heart defects can be detected by ultrasound during pregnancy. When a doctor hears a heart murmur (palpitations) for example, the doctor will then do further research through tests such as echocardiogram, chest X-ray, or MRI. If the diagnosis has come out, the doctor has the right specialist at delivery. The initial symptoms of congenital heart defects include:
- Blueness of the lips, skin, fingers and toes
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- No appetite (baby doesn't seem interested in drinking breast milk)
- Small birth weight
- Low oxygen levels or fainting
- Chest pain
- Hampered growth
Sometimes, especially in infants with asianotic heart disease who get enough oxygen, the symptoms do not appear until a few years later. In this case, symptoms include:
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of organs or tissues of the body
- Low oxygen level
- Easy to get tired
How to treat congenital heart disease?
Treatment for congenital heart defects depends on the type and severity. Some babies have mild heart defects that heal themselves over time. Some babies may need treatment. Other babies may have to undergo heart surgery. Including a catheter procedure, open heart surgery or a heart transplant (for very severe cases).
Congestive heart disease in adults
Depending on the disability, diagnosis and treatment can be done immediately after birth, during childhood, or until before adulthood. Some types of defects do not show symptoms until the patient grows up, and that is why they are not treated as soon as possible. In this case, symptoms of a newly discovered congenital heart defect include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Reduced exercise ability (fatigue in the beginning)
Like treatment in children, treatment for adults varies from monitoring to treatment and surgery. A defect that has been restored as a child can relapse again as an adult. Repair is no longer effective or maybe defects get worse over time. Scarring that develops around the repair area will cause problems such as arrhythmias. Sometimes, "mild" defects in childhood that do not need treatment can get worse later on.
Regardless of the situation, those who have a congenital disease should regularly see a cardiologist to receive further treatment. Treatment for congenital heart disease is not a drug. This method only improves heart conditions to help patients live normally. The risk of complications such as high blood pressure in the lungs, heart infection, stroke, heart failure is actually higher in individuals who have congestive heart disorders, so the best thing to do is to routinely visit a doctor experienced in heart disease.
How to prevent my baby from congestive heart disease?
Pregnant women can take several measures to reduce their risk of being born with congestive heart defects:
- If you plan to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about the medicines you are using.
- Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs during pregnancy.
- If you have diabetes, make sure your blood sugar levels are controlled before becoming pregnant and ask your doctor for help to treat this disease during pregnancy.
- If you don't get the rubella vaccine (German measles), avoid getting exposed to this virus and talk to your doctor about prevention options.
Please consult a doctor if you have questions or problems.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.