Heart Conditions…Not Only for Adults
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A large portion of the time, when we discuss heart conditions we think adults, especially seniors.
However, did you know approximately 40,000 babies born each year have some type of congenital heart defect (CHD)? CHD is the #1 birth defect, according to Little Hearts.org. Another study claims every 15 minutes a child is born with CHD. Congenital meaning “born with” the defect. Some use term congenital heart disease, whereas defect is more appropriate because the child is born with the condition.

It is imperative to understand there are numerous types of CHD. Little Hearts website explains there are over 35 types of congenital heart defects. When a child is born with a CHD, a medical professional will be able to ascertain whether a CHD requires immediate surgery upon birth and whether subsequent surgeries are required. A list covering a portion of the 35 types can be accessed at https://www.littlehearts.org/content/chd_resources.asp to learn about each one.

Photo Credit: ConqueringCHD.org

Some congenital heart defects are in the category of critical congenital heart defect (CCHD). The March of Dimes website list 7 congenital heart defects which are considered critical congenital heart defects (CCHD) and what method of treatment is required:
“1. Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (also called HLHS). In this condition, the left side of the heart doesn’t form fully, and the heart can’t properly pump blood. A baby with HLHS needs open heart surgery or a heart transplant. Some babies also need medicines to make their heart muscle stronger, to lower their blood pressure or to help the body get rid of extra fluids.

2. Pulmonary atresia (also called PA). In this condition, a baby’s heart’s pulmonary valve doesn’t form properly. This means that enough blood can’t flow from the heart to the lungs. Treatment may include medicines to help blood flow, open heart surgery or heart transplant.

3. Tetralogy of Fallot (also called TOF). Babies with this condition have heart defects that prevent enough blood from reaching the lungs. Babies with TOF need heart surgery and lifelong medical care.

4. Total anomalous pulmonary venous return (also called TAPV or TAPVR). In this condition, the veins that take blood from the lungs to the heart don’t connect to the heart the right way. It causes blood to circle back and forth between the heart and lungs. But blood never flows out to the rest of the body like it should. A baby with this condition needs surgery as soon as possible. Without treatment, the heart can get bigger, leading to heart failure. Heart failure is when the heart can’t pump enough blood.

5. Transposition of the great arteries (also called TGA). Babies with this condition have the positions of two important arteries switched. This means the blood that’s pumped to the body may not have enough oxygen. Babies with TGA need heart surgery and lifelong medical care.

6. Tricuspid atresia (also called TA). In this condition, the heart’s tricuspid valve is missing or doesn’t develop normally. If this valve doesn’t open, enough blood can’t flow into the lungs to pick up the oxygen it needs. Babies with TA need surgery.

7. Truncus arteriosis. Babies with this condition have only one artery that leaves the heart instead of two. This causes blood with oxygen to mix with blood that doesn’t have oxygen. Babies with this condition need surgery because over time, they can develop a life-threatening problem called pulmonary hypertension. This is high blood pressure in the arteries to the lungs.”
An individual with a congenital heart defect requires life long care. According to the website, “Conquering CHD” there are 3 million people in the US alone, living with CHD.

Dr. Aaron Kay, Director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program at Indiana University Health, provides a list which is good for all CHD caregivers and CHD patients to REMEMBER:
Lifelong follow-up is key
A current list of medications should be easily accessible. There are multiple phone apps where medications, amounts, and dosage can be stored.
Whether antibiotics are needed before a trip to the dentist
How to find a copy of all medical procedures. Plus, when and where completed
Who to call if any concerns or questions about CHD persons health or care
Maintain health insurance whenever possible.
How to find a new physician which specializes in CHD when the need arises (moves, gong away to college, vacations, etc)
To be able to notify if have a pacemaker or not
What activities are allowed
There are numerous resources available for CHD individuals and their caregivers and we have a list of references available at the end of the blog for you.

Next week, we will focus on Heart Healthy Consciousness. Until then, remember to “Keep Your Eyes on the Heart.”

Reference: CHD Resources. Accessed at: https://www.littlehearts.org/content/chd_resources.asp Accessed on: January 30, 2018.

Accessed at https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/congenital-heart-defects.aspx.
Accessed on January 30, 2018.

Reference: What is a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)?
Accessed at http://www.childrensheartfoundation.org/research/what-is-a-chd
Accessed on January 30, 2018

Reference: The Promise of Research for CHD, and Our Responsibility to Advocate
Accessed at http://conqueringchd.org/category/education/
Accessed on January 30, 2018
Reference: Teen Topics: Top 10 Things To Remember
Accessed at http://conqueringchd.org/teen-topics-top-10/
Accessed on January 30, 2018
Disclaimer: All information, content, and material of the Cardinal Institute for Health Career’s blog is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.