Congenital Heart Defects or CHDs are a range of defects that inhibit the normal working of the heart. The word ‘congenital’ means that the defect is present since birth. In India, CHDs are diagnosed in 9 per 1000 children. Given the birth rate, about 2,00,000 cases of CHDs are diagnosed each year in India. About one-fifth of the total cases are critical, requiring surgical intervention within one year.
As for the treatment, looking for the best cardiology hospital in Bangalore is the way to go as this location is known for high-quality treatments at affordable costs in India.
The top 5 Congenital Heart defects in children are given below-
- Ventricular Septal defect- A Ventricular Septal defect (VSD) is an abnormal opening in the Septum, which is a wall separating the right and left ventricle of the heart. It develops in a child before birth.
VSD is generally diagnosed within weeks or months after birth during routine check-ups by the pediatric doctor. VSDs have a distinct heart murmur sound. Further diagnoses are made through chest x-rays, EKG, and ultrasound.
The symptoms and signs of VSDs depend on the size and location of the hole. Small holes don’t have any signs or symptoms and the hole usually closes on its own. Medium and large VSDs have noticeable symptoms like faster breathing, excessive sweating, fatigue, and weight loss or slow weight gain.
VSD is treated through heart surgery, where the surgeon will make a small incision in the heart the sew the hole directly or indirectly using a sterile patch. VSD is also treated through a procedure called cardiac catheterization. In this procedure, a thin, flexible tube is sent to the heart through an artery of the leg. A catheter is passed through the tube and a flexible wire mesh is created on both sides of the hole to seal it permanently. The surgeries have a fast recovery.
- Atrial Septal defect- An Atrial Septal defect (ASD) is an abnormal opening in the wall separating the right and left atrium of the heart. It develops in a child before birth.
Small ASDs may never be diagnosed and close on their own. Medium and large holes have symptoms like fatigue, swelling of hands and legs, and irregular heartbeats. Like VSDs this defect also has a distinctive heart murmur.
Medium to large size holes (5-10mm dia.) will need surgery, as they will not close without treatment. ASD is treated in the same way as VSD which are heart surgery and cardiac catheterization.
- Single Ventricle defect– Single ventricle defect or SVD, is a CHD in which either of the two ventricles of the heart is defective. It is either smaller in size or underdeveloped or both. SVD is characterized by VSD or ASD in some cases. Medically, a Single Ventricle Defect characterized by VSD or ASD may be a blessing in disguise.
The most noticeable sign and symptom of SVD as given by the best pediatric cardiac hospitals are Blue Baby Syndrome. SVD is rare but extremely critical.
Babies born with an SVD are treated through a sequence of surgeries, to have the heart only pump oxygenated blood. The first surgery is performed a few days after birth where the surgeon adds a tube to connect the two arteries that carry blood out of the heart. The second surgery is done at six months when the surgeons remove the previously installed tube and route the deoxygenated blood directly to the lungs. In the third surgery, at three years, the surgeon completely bypasses the deoxygenated blood from the heart. The recovery takes time and in most cases the child does not have a very long life.
- Pulmonary Valve Stenosis- Pulmonary Valve Stenosis or PVS is a congenital heart defect in babies, the causes of which are unclear at the time. In PVS the valve that connects the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery becomes narrow and or stiff. This restricts the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs. Therefore, the blood is unable to absorb oxygen from the lungs.
PVS has a very distinctive whooshing sound when heard from a stethoscope. This defect Is characterized by fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of consciousness. Babies with PVS appear blue due to a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream.
Some typical PVS has been treated with balloon dilation through cardiac catheterization. Where an inflatable balloon-like duct is placed near the valve and inflated and deflated continuously to loosen the valve. In other conditions, heart surgery is a must.
- Tetralogy of Fallot- Tetralogy of Fallot is a CHD that is a combination of four CHDs. ToF is a combination of VSD, PVS, overriding aorta and Right Ventricle hypertrophy. This is a rare and critical defect that requires immediate surgical intervention.
The signs and symptoms are distinctive and mainly characterized by fatigue, shortness of breath and most importantly babies appearing cyanotic or blue. The pediatric cardiologist in Bangalore will advise on performing EKG and echocardiography to be sure of the defect.
Babies born with ToF must go through multiple heart surgeries to resolve one underlying defect at a time. The success of the series of surgeries has improved a lot in recent times but complete recovery still takes time.