Congenital Heart Disease – What You Need to Know

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There are numerous types of heart diseases. Congenital heart disease is a very serious medical condition that affects the cardiovascular structure. The abnormalities happen before the baby is born and the condition affects 1% of children in the U.S. Symptoms are hard to recognize mainly because they can appear at any stage of life. No signs occur in very few cases.

What Causes the Disease?

Research is still underway to establish the exact cause of this ailment in different types of patients. Several factors contribute to the condition such as:

  • Defects of the genes like Down syndrome
  • The use of alcohol and certain prescription medication when pregnant
  • Viral infections like rubella when pregnant
  • Congenital heart disease risk increases in cases where one or both parents suffer from the heart condition.

What Are the Types of the Disease?

There are several other heart defects that can be classified under this condition. They are:

  • Defects of the Heart Valve– Blood flow is blocked when the heart valves become narrow due. The condition is also bound to occur when the valves fail to close as required.
  • Wall Defects- When the wall separating the ventricles and the atria is compromised, the flow of oxygen is inhibited.
  • Abnormalities of Heart Muscles- There are many muscle abnormalities linked to congenital heart disease.

What Are the Symptoms?

Despite the fact that this medical condition often hides symptoms, one can still be able to identify some, especially when dealing with adults. They are:

  • Breath shortness
  • Diminished physical tolerance
  • Chest Pains
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rate

What is the Diagnosis for this Disease?

The first sign that a doctor will look for when diagnosing a case of congenital heart disease is heart sound that is abnormal. This will be achieved by listening to the heart beat. Further testing may be required depending on the initial findings. They may include:

  • X-ray on the chest area
  • MRI
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram

What Are the Treatment Options?

The type of treatment to be used will depend on several factors. Actually, some cases of heart defects that are mild resolve on their own with time. This means that it is not mandatory to treat them. However, severe conditions require prescription medication. Other types of congenital heart disease may be resolved through surgical procedures. In most cases, patients suffering from this ailment must be monitored all through life by a specialist.

What Are the Ways of Preventing Further Damage?  

Further damage can easily occur when this medical condition is present. This is particularly true for cases where surgical procedures were used as part of the treatment plan. To avoid such a situation:

  • Inform all medical professionals that you’ll visit in future of the disease. Have an information card with you at all times.
  • Seek medical assistance when these signs occur: Fever, body aches and sore throat.
  • Avoid infections. Congenital heart disease is aggravated by poor hygiene so ensure that your gums and teeth are clean.
  • Learn first aid and CPR to learn to manage serious medical emergencies that are related to congenital heart disease. Courses are available throughout North America and no prerequisites are needed.

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