Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital heart diseases are lesions, caused by abnormal development of the
structures of the heart. This happens in the embryonic life due to environmental or
unknown factors. The cause of congenital disease is usually unknown, but there are
multifactor reasons that are incriminated. They are said to be sporadic. This meaning that
it is not secluded to one geographic location. However this incidence is increased in those
with a positive family history associated with this kind of heart disease. Congenital heart
disease also known as CAD is part of several syndromes like Down syndrome and others.
They are associated with factors like maternal alcohol ingestion and some drugs like
thalidomide, which were prescribed medications that are no longer on the market, folic
acid, and others. They are also associated with maternal diabetes, which doubles one's
chance of contracting this abnormal development or defect.
Currently there are over 15 different types of heart diseases. Most of these
defects seem to be centered upon the five main areas around the heart. The atria, veins,
ventricles, aorta and the four valves (tricuspid valve, pulmonary artery, mitral valve and
aortic valve.) There are a number of ways that the defects can occur. This can be due to
abnormal connections, leakage or narrowing in any of the four valves or veins.
Congenital heart disease is currently the most common of all major birth defects
with approximately 36,000 American-born babies every year with CHD, according to the
American Heart Association (AHA) 2004 Heart and Stroke Statistical Update.
Although there are different signs that arise depending on the specific defect the majority
is classified as cyanotic. This is the appearance of bluish color to the skin, lips and
fingernails. Cyanotic heart diseases are the ones that are incompatible in life without
early intervention. This being due to the mixing of oxygenated blood with deoxygenated
blood at the level of the heart or arteries.
One common example is (VSD) ventricular septal defect. This defect is usually
located in the left or right ventricle by the appearance of a hole. Other lesions are
pulmonary stenosis, which reduces blood flow to the lungs as well as tetralogy of fallots,
a condition that involves the "tetralogy" of the following four elements (enlargement of
the right ventricle, narrowing of the pulmonic valve aligning the displaced aorta and
tricuspid atresia, which is a complete closure of the tricuspid valve. This will prevent
blood flow from the right atrium to the right ventricle.
Early diagnosis and proper medical intervention is key such as oxygen;
prostaglandin injections, antibiotics or surgical procedures which are crucial for longer
cure. This all depend on physical findings and interpretations of laboratory data such as
electrocardiogram (EKG) or echocardiogram as well as chest x-rays and magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI). The most effective way of detecting fetal CAD abnormalities
still relies on amniocentesis and chorionic villi sampling.
Today it is a lot different, with the ever increasing advancement of technology and
medical research we are finding out that in many cases, this type of diseases is easier to
be treated at the embryonic stage, to achieve a positive result rather than later on for the
benefit of the infant's life. It all depends on the particular heart abnormality. That is one
of the main reasons that currently in the US there are over a million people living with
congenital heart disease. Early detection has made it possible for so many patients and
children who have a wide range of congenital heart defects to receive treatment that
enables them to live long, healthy, active and productive lives....
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