Understanding Congenital Heart Defects

June 26, 2014Comments Off on Understanding Congenital Heart Defects

More than a million individuals in America alone suffer from some form of congenital heart disease, or what most people refer to as CHD. As the name implies, congenital heart defect is a condition that is present at birth. It typically involves problems in how the heart, and sometimes the blood vessels, are formed. While some of these problems impede the flow of the blood, other conditions can alter the natural beating pattern of the heart causing it to skip a beat. As most would know, a skip or an irregular pattern in the heart beat can actually lead to insufficient oxygen supply to other organs in the body which, in turn, can result to tissue necrosis.

Although many are aware that certain heart conditions can present itself at birth, the reason for most of these is still unknown. At present, only a handful of these conditions can be directly linked to a particular gene. It does not, however, mean that all congenital heart defects are difficult to ascertain. With the various changes in technology, parents can actually have their infants undergo certain screening in order to determine the risk for a congenital heart disease. One of these methods is what is known as the pulse oximetry screening method. Keep in mind, though, that not all heart defects can be determined by pulse oximetry. At best, it could only detect the amount of oxygen in one’s blood. Soon-to-be-born infants can also be made to undergo fetal echocardiogram in order to ascertain the presence of congenital heart diseases. However, this kind of exam can only provide medical professionals with an idea on whether the physical structure of the heart is okay or not.

Aside from the genes, infants born of obese mothers also tend to have higher risks for congenital heart diseases. Several studies have shown that pregnant as well as those who are gestating mothers that have a body mass index of 30 or more tend to have higher risks of giving birth to children that have CHD. This is one of the reasons why most medical professionals recommend that pregnant women keep to a specific weight bracket.

CHD can present itself in a number of ways:

  1. Hypoplasia – occurs when either the left ventricle or the right ventricle does not develop properly or is underdeveloped. What happens is only one ventricle is able to pump blood. While considered to be  a rare condition, it is also one of the deadliest.
  2. Obstruction defects – this is when the valves or the blood vessels leading to and from the heart becomes narrowed or blocked. There are many reasons for the latter two to take place. One of the most common reasons, however, is the build up of plaque along the walls of the blood vessels. Some of the most common forms of obstruction defects are pulmonic stenosis, aortic stenosis, and coarctation of the aorta. The letter refers to the narrowing of a certain portion of the aorta to more than its typically smallest size.
  3. Septal defects – these are considered to be the most common of all congenital heart diseases. Septal defects concern the wall that divided the atria from the ventricles as well as the left side of the heart from the right side of the heart.
  4. Cyanotic defects – these are defects that result in the person having a bluish-gray skin discoloration. Cyanotic heart typically happens when the blood coming from the different organs as well as the blood that should be going to these organs get mixed up.

If you are living wit someone who has congenital defects, you need to make sure that you have the necessary skills in order to assist him or her during emergency cases. Undergoing a CPR training is one of the many ways by which you can prepare yourself.