Some are born with a defective heart for no mistake of theirs! The word ‘congenital’ means existing at birth and hence the name ‘congenital heart defects’ given to children born with heart defects. Though it is also called as congenital heart disease generally ‘defect’ is more appropriate as the abnormality is due to improper development of heart or a blood vessel near it.
In general, human hearts have valves, arteries and chambers that carry blood in a circulatory motion that is, blood is pumped from the heart to the lungs for oxygen, back to the heart and out of the body. When there is a malfunction, the circulation is disturbed and it might affect the circulatory functioning as well. The defect can obstruct blood flow, cause it to flow in the wrong direction or wrongly place or block blood flow completely.
The underlying cause for congenital heart defect is not crystal clear in most cases and we can only propose a few conditions that can increase the risk of the defect:
Signs & Symptoms
Many children don’t experience any symptoms and the defect remains undiagnosed until the child grows up. If symptoms exist, they are mostly any of these:
There are about 18 different types of congenital heart defects which also sometimes occur in combination. The commonest of them include:
The treatment depends on the type of the defect. Minor problems such as a hole in the heart might resolve on their own without treatment while any defect that causes problems needs surgery or other interventions. People with congenital heart disease require treatment throughout their lives and it is better to be in contact with a specialist right from childhood through adulthood. There is also the possibility of developing other complex problems due to congenital heart defect and the individual remains under medical supervision lifelong.
Surgery or other treatments might curb the individual’s ability to exercise and also require them to stay precautious throughout to avoid getting infections.
Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.