Congenital Heart Disease: Emergency Room Near You
Congenital heart disease, also referred to as a congenital heart defect, is an abnormality of the heart that is present at birth. When one has a congenital heart disease, the problem they have as far as their heart is concerned may affect the blood vessels, the walls of the heart as well as the valves in their heart. It is a condition that affects a significant number of the population with the stats showing that there are 1 million adults and 1 million children living with congenital heart diseases in the U.S. There was a time when being born with a congenital heart disease was like a death sentence as very few children would survive to adulthood, but over the years there have been great strides made and advancements in terms of follow-up care and treatments to the extent that majority of children born with congenital heart disease can now survive into adulthood. While some may require continuous care of their heart defect during the course of their lives, most of them usually go on to live productive and active lives. There are different types of congenital heart diseases; some of which are simple with little or no symptoms while others are complex with severe and life-threatening symptoms. This article will look to highlight some of the things you should know about congenital heart disease, such as the different types, as well as when to visit an emergency room near you for the same.
We are going to start by highlighting the different types of congenital heart disease. Here, we find that congenital heart disease can be divided into three main categories; heart valve defects, heart wall defects as well as blood vessel defects. Heart valve defects involve the closing up or leaking of the valves inside the heart interfering with the ability of the heart to pump blood as it should. Heart wall defects occur when the walls in the heart between the right and left sides as well as the upper and lower chambers of the heart don’t develop correctly. This may lead to blood backing up in the heart or building up in areas where it shouldn’t which usually makes the heart work harder in trying to overcome these issues, which may lead to high blood pressure. The final category of congenital heart disease are blood vessel defects which occur when the arteries and veins carrying blood to and from the heart to the body don’t function as they should. This situation may lead to the blocking or reduction of blood flow which can cause many health complications in the body. Congenital heart disease can also be divided into two; either cyanotic or acyanotic congenital heart disease. Cyanotic congenital heart disease causes the blood to have low levels of oxygen, causing symptoms such as a blue color to the skin and breathlessness in babies born with it while acyanotic congenital heart disease doesn’t, although the babies may still develop complications such as high blood pressure later on in their lives.
Next up we are going to look at the causes of congenital heart disease as well as the treatment options available. Starting with the causes, experts suspect that there are a number of factors that may lead to the heart not developing correctly in the unborn baby. These factors include genetics where the congenital heart disease may run in the family, increased blood sugar levels in pregnant mothers as is the case with those with diabetes, the use of alcohol or illegal drugs when pregnant, taking of prescription drugs during pregnancy as well as cases where mothers had a viral infection during the first trimester of their pregnancy. All these increase the chances of the baby being born with a heart defect. As far as treatment is concerned, there are a number of options available, depending of course on the severity of the defect. While others may have heart defects that are mild and heal on their own after some time, other babies have to undergo treatment which includes the use of medications to help the heart work more efficiently, prevent clots from forming or manage an irregular heartbeat, catheter procedures, implantation of certain devices such as pacemakers, open-heart surgery which is done in cases where a catheter procedure can’t work and is done to close holes in the heart, repair valves among other defects, as well as heart transplant which may be required if the heart defect is too complex and can’t be fixed.
As far as symptoms go, in most cases a congenital heart disease will be detected during pregnancy when you go get your ultrasound done. If it is not detected then, it may be detected shortly after birth and here, the symptoms to look out for in newborns include feeding difficulties, bluish lips, fingers, toes and skin, low birth weight, chest pain, delayed growth as well as trouble breathing. Sometimes congenital heart disease may take time to show and symptoms may appear years after birth. They include fatigue, swelling in the legs, around the eyes or abdomen, dizziness, an abnormal heart rhythm, dizziness as well as trouble breathing. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention, and should head over to an emergency room near you if you or your baby are having difficulties breathing or you notice a blue tint on the skin.
Hopefully this article comes in handy in understanding what congenital heart disease is about as well as in knowing when to go to an emergency room near you for the same.