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Congenital heart defects

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Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are structural abnormalities of the heart that are present at birth. These defects can range from mild to severe and can affect the heart’s structure, function, or both. CHDs are the most common birth defects, affecting approximately 1 in 100 babies. The causes of CHDs can vary and may involve genetic factors, environmental factors, or a combination of both. Here are some common types of congenital heart defects in children:

  • Atrial Septal Defect (ASD):
    • An ASD is a hole in the wall (septum) that separates the two upper chambers (atria) of the heart.
    • Blood may flow from the left atrium to the right atrium, which can lead to increased blood flow to the lungs.
    • Depending on the size and location, ASDs may close on their own or require surgical repair.
  • Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD):
    • A VSD is a hole in the septum that separates the two lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart.
    • It can cause oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix, leading to increased blood flow to the lungs.
    • VSDs can range in size and may require medical monitoring or surgical repair.
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA):
    • The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that connects the pulmonary artery and the aorta in the fetal heart.
    • In some cases, it remains open after birth, allowing blood to bypass the lungs.
    • Treatment may involve medication or closure through a catheter-based procedure or surgery.
  • Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF):
    • TOF is a complex CHD characterized by four specific heart defects: a ventricular septal defect, pulmonary stenosis, an overriding aorta, and right ventricular hypertrophy.
    • It can cause reduced oxygen flow to the body and lead to “blue baby” syndrome.
    • Surgical repair is typically needed.
  • Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA):
    • In TGA, the two main arteries leaving the heart, the aorta and the pulmonary artery, are switched.
    • This disrupts the normal flow of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood.
    • Surgery to correct the arterial connections is required soon after birth.
  • Coarctation of the Aorta (CoA):
    • CoA is a narrowing or constriction of the aorta, the main artery that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the body.
    • It can lead to high blood pressure and may require surgical repair.
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS):
    • HLHS is a complex CHD in which the left side of the heart (left ventricle and aorta) is underdeveloped.
    • A series of surgical procedures, known as the Norwood procedure, are performed to address this condition.
  • Ebstein’s Anomaly:
    • Ebstein’s anomaly involves a malformed tricuspid valve, which separates the right atrium and right ventricle.
    • It can lead to blood flow abnormalities and heart rhythm issues.
    • Treatment may involve surgery to repair or replace the tricuspid valve.
  • Single Ventricle Defects:
    • These are a group of CHDs where one of the ventricles is underdeveloped or nonfunctional.
    • Children with single ventricle defects typically require a series of surgeries, such as the Fontan procedure, to manage blood flow.

Early diagnosis and appropriate medical or surgical interventions are crucial for children with CHDs. The treatment approach depends on the specific defect, its severity, and the child’s overall health. Advances in pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery have improved the outcomes for many children with congenital heart defects.

The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice of a physician