Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital Heart Defects in Children
There are several congenital heart defects that are detected and treated early in infancy. Most of them are abnormal connections among the blood vessels, as well as other vessels of the heart (aorta and pulmonary artery). These abnormal connections can allow unoxygenated blood to flow to the body instead of to the lungs, or allow oxygenated blood to flow to the lungs instead of to the body. They may also cause heart failure. Some examples of congenital heart disease in infants and children include:
- Patent ductus arteriosus (when blood bypasses the lungs, preventing oxygen from circulating throughout the body)
- Tetralogy of Fallot (four different heart defects that occur together)
- Transposition of the great vessels (blood from the left side of the heart and right side of the heart intermix because the large artery connections are reversed)
- Coarctation of the aorta (a pinched aorta)
- Heart valve problems
What Are the Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease in Infants and Children?
The symptoms of congenital heart disease in infants and children may include:
- Cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails, and lips)
- Fast breathing and poor feeding
- Poor weight gain
- Recurrent lung infections
- Inability to exercise
How Are Congenital Heart Defects in Children Treated?
Some congenital heart defects will require surgery or an interventional procedure to repair the problem. Children with congenital heart disease may also need treatment with medication to improve heart function.
Children and adults with congenital heart disease should be treated by a cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart disease. Some types of disease may require a team approach as the child grows into an adult.
It is important to continue to see a cardiologist as an adult.