Treat congenital heart defects immediately


About 1 in 100 newborns, the birth of a child is followed by a warning signal

The birth of a newborn baby is always a celebration. All parents just want to know that their child is healthy and growing normally. However, for some parents or roughly 1 in 100 newborns, the birth of a child is followed by a warning signal, i.e. the presence of a congenital heart defect or coronary heart disease.

Infants born with congenital heart disease may have significantly less oxygen than ideal (cyanosis), tend to gain weight more slowly than other babies, rapid and irregular heartbeat, general fatigue, increased rate breathing, loss of appetite due to constant breathing difficulties and fatigue, frequent respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and especially compromised absorption of nutrients from the digestive tract.

With science making leaps and bounds in innovation, 85% of infants with coronary artery disease can now survive the defects and lead near-normal lives. With innovations paving the way for effective and rapid management of coronary heart disease, the disease can no longer be treated as a terminal illness.

Understanding the types of coronary artery disease

Although there are many types of congenital heart defects, they can be classified into two main categories: cyanotic and acyanotic congenital heart disease.

In the case of the child with cyanotic heart disease, babies have low levels of oxygen in the blood and are prone to shortness of breath and a bluish tinge to the skin. In acyanotic children, however, interferes with the heart’s ability to properly pump blood due to holes in the heart, valve defects, etc.

Take, for example, interatrial communication (ASD) or interventricular communication (VSD) is a type of heart wall defect in which the natural walls that exist between the left and right sides and the upper and lower chambers of the heart may fail. not develop. properly, which circulates more blood between the heart and lungs. This defect puts additional pressure on the heart to work harder, which increases the workload on the heart and lungs.

The clinical approach to the management of coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease is often detected during pregnancy using ultrasound (fetal echocardiography or abnormal scan). After birth, congenital heart defects are diagnosed when the doctor, during a physical exam, detects abnormal heart pulses or sounds, low oxygen levels, etc. The good news is that in many cases we no longer need to perform open heart surgery on an infant who may face risks such as blood transfusion, blood infections, prolonged hospital stay, etc. .

Take, for example, a baby born with ASD / VSD etc. who can be treated with a minimally invasive approach – ASD / VSD occluders / septal devices without the need for open heart surgery. Likewise, with valve stenosis (valve narrowing) a balloon attached to the catheter is inflated, which helps to stretch or widen the valve and relieve any blockage in the blood flow. Such minimally invasive surgeries are now possible in many congenital heart diseases and have a marked impact on how these patients are treated.

Whatever the situation, the important thing to understand here is that while technology paves the way for a healthier future, it is also our responsibility to take timely action.

Dr Shreesha Maiya, HOD of Pediatric Cardiology and Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Narayana Institute of Cardiac Sciences, Bengaluru