Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of U.S. men and women, accounting for 40% of all U.S. deaths. That's more than all forms of cancer combined.
Why is heart disease so deadly? One reason is that many people are slow to seek help when symptoms arise. Yes, someone gripped by sudden chest pain probably knows to call 911. But heart symptoms aren't always intense or obvious, and they vary from person to person and according to gender.
Because it can be hard to make sense of heart symptoms, doctors...
Heart murmurHeart murmur.
Many people with congenital heart defects have a humming sound (heart murmur)
that can be heard with a stethoscope even after the heart defect is repaired.
Most heart murmurs are harmless ("innocent"). But sometimes a heart murmur is abnormal and is a sign of a heart problem. During exams, the doctor may check for a murmur that could be a sign of a problem.
Heart rate and rhythm problems. These heart problems can happen in children and adults who have congenital heart defects. There are many types of rate and rhythm problems that can happen. They can be irregular rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation. Or they can be a fast heart rate, such as a type of tachycardia.
Heart valve problem. If a child had a heart valve replacement, the child may need another replacement surgery when he or she gets older. Abnormally shaped heart valves,
in particular, can lead to complications such as
endocarditis or narrowed or leaky heart valves.
Endocarditis. A congenital heart defect can raise the risk of an infection in the heart called endocarditis. To prevent this infection, your child needs to take excellent care of his or her teeth and watch for signs of skin infections. If your child is at high risk, he or she might take antibiotics before having certain dental and surgical procedures that could put bacteria or fungi into your child's blood. The antibiotics lower the risk of getting endocarditis.
A heart defect might cause a child to not grow normally. Complications include:
Developmental delays or disabilities. The doctor will track your child's development over time and may do screening tests. It's also good for you to learn what milestones are expected for children at each age. This can help you spot problems early or feel better about how your child is doing.
Clubbing, a condition in which the ends of the fingers and toes swell and the nails
Polycythemia, which is an abnormal
increase in the number of red blood cells. This may increase a person's risk
for blood clots that can cause heart attacks or strokes.
with the brain and nerves. An example of this is infection in the brain. This
can happen as a result of bacteria in the blood that gets into the brain
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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