Health

Early Detection of Congenital Heart Diseases: Symptoms You Must Watch Out For

4 Mins read

Congenital heart disease (CHD) refers to a group of heart-related conditions which develop in a foetus before birth. It occurs due to abnormal development of the heart during pregnancy, thereby resulting in structural defects which affect the functioning of the heart. CHD is the most common birth defect, affecting about 1 in every 1000 newborns.

The severity of this disease varies widely, with certain defects causing only mild symptoms while several others can be life-threatening. Few common types of CHD comprise the atrial septal defect, tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of the great arteries, and ventricular septal defect.

The treatment for CHD is based on the type and the severity of the defect. In certain cases, no treatment may be essential, while others may require medication, surgery, or several other interventions. With advancement in medical treatment and technology, several individuals with CHD successfully lead healthy as well as fulfilling lives. 

However, CHD shows basic symptoms like rapid breathing, poor feeding, blue tint to the skin, and poor weight gain. In some cases, CHD may not be diagnosed until later in life when symptoms become more apparent. Considering the severity of this disease, it is very important to look out for the symptoms at an early stage to avoid it from getting more dangerous. Read on to know more about these symptoms and other details.

Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease

The treatment and diagnosis expenses incurred during the procedure of CHD detection and management can be very high. These expenses can even burn your financial being, sometimes even exhausting your life savings. It is, therefore, advisable to get yourself insured with a health insurance policy which will provide you financial security against such medical expenses. Don’t let the financial burden hinder your journey towards a healthy future. Early detection and treatment of CHD can help improve outcomes and quality of life for people with this condition. 

Common symptoms of CHD in infants and children include:

  • Cyanosis, a bluish tint to the skin, lips, and nail beds due to a lack of oxygen in the blood
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Fatigue or easily becoming tired during physical activity or feeding
  • Poor weight gain or growth
  • Sweating, especially during feeding
  • Heart murmur (an abnormal sound heard during a heartbeat due to turbulent flow of blood through the heart)

Besides, the advancements in medical technology have increased the likelihood of the diagnosis of certain heart-related defects even prior to the birth of the baby. Foetal echocardiography is a specialised ultrasound test which is performed between 16 and 24 weeks of the pregnancy. This is done to carry out the evaluation of the heart function and structure of the developing baby. Detection at an early stage permits the doctors to plan proper treatment and management post birth. This can improve the outcomes for the infants who have been affected significantly.

In adults, symptoms of CHD may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet
  • Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
  • Fainting or dizziness

It’s important to note that many of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so a thorough medical evaluation is necessary to determine the underlying cause. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.

Diagnosis of CHD

In order to confirm the diagnosis of Congenital Heart Disease, various investigations could be suggested. These may comprise chest X-ray, echocardiography, and electrocardiography (ECG). Such tests aid in the evaluation of the function and the structure of the heart to identify the abnormalities, if any. In certain cases, additional investigative tests may be recommended. These may include MRI scan, CT scan, and cardiac catheterization. These tests may be essential in order to plan for the treatment and supplement the diagnosis.

Complications of CHD

The complications of CHD depend on the severity of the disease. Some people may experience them while some may not. Some of the common complications of CHD include the following:

  • Heart failure: a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs
  • Arrhythmias: abnormal heart rhythms that can cause dizziness, fainting, or even sudden cardiac arrest
  • Pulmonary hypertension: high blood pressure in the lungs, which can lead to heart failure or other complications
  • Infective endocarditis: an infection of the heart lining, which can occur in people with certain types of CHD who are at increased risk of infection
  • Stroke: a potential complication of certain types of CHD that can occur if blood clots form and travel to the brain

It’s important for people with CHD to receive ongoing care and monitoring to help prevent and manage potential complications. Treatment may involve medication, lifestyle modifications, or surgical interventions, depending on the individual case

Treatment of CHD

The treatment of CHD depends on the type and severity of the defect. Some CHDs require no treatment or may improve on their own over time, while others may require medical or surgical intervention.

Medical treatment may include medications to help manage symptoms, such as diuretics to reduce swelling. It may also include medications to help the heart function more efficiently, such as beta-blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Antibiotics may also be given to prevent infections of the heart lining, a common complication of CHD.

Surgical treatment may be necessary for more severe defects, such as repairing or replacing heart valves or closing holes in the heart. In some cases, a heart transplant may be necessary.

In addition to medical and surgical treatment, lifestyle modifications may also be recommended. They could include maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, avoiding smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, and managing stress.

Long-term follow-up care is also important for people with CHD, as they may be at increased risk for complications such as heart failure, arrhythmias, or infections. Regular monitoring and check-ups with a healthcare provider can help ensure proper management of the condition.

Conclusion

Detecting the symptoms of congenital heart disease (CHD) is crucial for timely diagnosis and effective treatment. CHD is a serious condition that can cause significant health complications if left untreated. Infants and children with CHD may experience symptoms such as cyanosis, rapid breathing, or poor weight gain. On the other hand, the adults may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or fatigue. Since symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of the defect, it’s important to seek medical attention if any unusual symptoms arise. 

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