Learn more about ‘Congenital Heart Disease’:
The term ‘Congenital Heart Disease’ refers to heart abnormalities a person is born with. They are the result of abnormal development of the heart during the time the fetus is developing in the mother’s womb. The frequency of these heart lesions is about eight to 10 per 1,000 babies born.
The causes of these a re multifactorial. A well-known cause is German Measles or Rubella infection affecting the mother during the early months of her pregnancy. Some congenital heart disease may run in families. However, most of the time the cause is unknown and therefore they cannot be prevented.
Early detection of congenital heart disease will help to improve the management of these children.
The congenital heart disease can be divided into two large categories:
- Cyanotic Heart Disease: In these cases the affected child has cyanosis i.e. the child is noted to be blue, usually around the lips and tongue. In the normal blood circulation, blood returns from the body to the heart and is then pumped out to the lungs. The blood returning from the body is blue because the oxygen has been removed by the body. This blue blood is then pumped through the lungs where it picks up oxygen from the lungs and becomes pink.This pink blood then returns one more time to the heart and is then pumped out to the rest of the body to supply the needs of the body. In cyanotic heart disease, the blue blood that should normally go to the lungs to become pink is shunted or diverted away from the lungs by various structural abnormalities. The blue blood then gets sent back to the rest of the body without getting a chance to pick up oxygen. This result in blue blood circulating throughout the body and making the child looks blue. The lack of oxygen for the body to use also results in a weak and easily tired child.
- Acyanotic Heart Disease: In these cases the affected child does not have cyanosis. These cases are due to
various abnormalities that affect the smooth flow of the blood without diverting blood away from the lungs. This imposes extra work on the heart and can cause heart failure if severe. These include the common “holes in the heart” and various narrowing of the blood vessels.