How new technology is helping people with congenital heart defects

People with congenital heart defects can have many open heart surgeries in their lifetime. According to Gillespie, most of these defects are detected in the uterus by standard ultrasound screening, so that by the time the baby is born, doctors will know if there are any heart problems. But according to the CDC, some heart defects may go undetected during pregnancy – some are found either at birth or as a child ages. Some babies appear healthy at first, but can still have a congenital heart defect, according to the CDC, which is why it suggests newborn screening to ensure babies receive prompt care and treatment.

Although some people with congenital heart defects may experience shortness of breath or swelling and an abnormal heartbeat, Gillespie said this was not common in his patients.

“They come very rarely and say, ‘Well I have a lot of symptoms,’” he said. “You want to get them before they have symptoms because if you have symptoms it means you may have waited too long. “

But Gillespie said almost all of the patients he has treated with Harmony TPV have reported feeling much more energized. With the valve replacement, he said, the heart becomes a more efficient pump, which results in better feeling and a higher energy level. He added that he hopes technologies like the Harmony TPV will reduce the number of open heart surgeries people need.

It has been two years since Hurley’s non-surgical procedure, and like any other patient with a congenital heart defect, he still has annual checkups. He also takes online courses at Penn State and remains active.

“Patients like Jack 25 or 30 years ago we were just like, well, let’s take them from infancy to adulthood, but now we recognize that our patients can live long, productive and happy lives. Said Gillespie. “And these new technologies allow us to maintain our patients in a less invasive way, to keep their hearts healthier for a longer period of time. “

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