Congenital heart disease is also known as a congenital heart defect. It is the presence of a heart abnormality when you are born. Congenital heart disease can affect a person’s heart walls, heart valves or blood vessels. You should visit a doctor, like those at Premier Medical Group, if you think that you or your child has a congenital heart defect. There are numerous types of congenital heart defects. If properly diagnosed, a doctor can tell you which type is present and the severity of one’s condition.
Early developmental problems cause congenital heart disease. These problems occur in the heart’s structure. A defect will prevent the normal flow of blood throughout the heart. These problems can affect an infant’s ability to breathe. Researchers are still largely uncertain why hearts fail to properly develop. However, there are suspected causes for congenital heart disease. These can include:
Speak with your doctor if any of these are applicable. The doctor may want to closely monitor your child for the presence of defects. If no detection is made prior to your child’s birth, they may recommend running tests later.
Doctors will seek further testing if an abnormal heartbeat is present during a pregnancy ultrasound. However, symptoms are not limited to appearing prior to the delivery. Some symptoms can appear at different times for newborns. These can include:
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should immediately consult your newborn’s doctor. Also, keep in mind that symptoms of congenital heart defects can be further delayed. Cases exist where people do not develop symptoms until many years later. These later symptoms include:
Embryos commonly develop congenital heart defects within the first six weeks of a pregnancy. During those first six weeks, your child’s heart will start to develop into a fully formed heart. As time has passed, the screening and diagnostic practices have improved. However, tests may still not detect congenital heart disease prior to birth. If symptoms exist prior to birth, doctors often detect them during a pregnancy ultrasound. Other tests can allow doctors to detect a congenital heart defect. These may include echocardiograms, an MRI scan or a chest X-ray.
Doctors divide congenital heart defects into three main categories. If you or your child is experiencing symptoms, consult a medical professional or specialist. The three types of congenital heart defects and what their causes are include:
Doctors typically classify congenital heart disease in two ways. These classifications are cyanotic congenital heart disease or acyanotic congenital heart disease. The overlapping problem is that the heart does not pump blood in an efficient manner.
These two types are different in a significant way. Cyanotic congenital heart disease results in low levels of oxygen present in the blood. Alternatively, those with acyanotic congenital heart disease do not experience that problem.
Congenital heart disease symptoms may feel overwhelming and confusing. It is important to ask your doctor questions. Additionally, it is good to know the difference between congenital heart disease and other heart diseases. Other common heart diseases can include rheumatic heart disease and valvular heart disease. The differences between these diseases are their causes and which part of the heart is affected.
There are ways that you can potentially prevent your child from having congenital heart disease. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant:
Congenital heart disease symptoms can appear in anyone. Nonetheless, certain groups do experience congenital heart defects at higher rates. Individuals who possess other genetic conditions are more likely to have congenital heart defects. These conditions can include:
Doctors treat congenital heart disease based on the severity of each patient’s symptoms. The treatment options may include:
These procedures are not one-size-fits-all. Speak with a qualified medical professional, like the doctors at Premier Medical Group, to determine what makes the most sense for you.
The outlook has greatly improved for individuals living with congenital heart defects. Babies and children live longer and healthier lives, well into adulthood. It is important for adults and children to have long-term medical care. If you or your child have congenital heart disease, make sure to regularly schedule appointments with a heart doctor, or cardiologist.
These visits will help you to make the best decisions for you or your child. They will also make you more aware of your own medical history. That knowledge will help you further prepare for any of your future children.