Congenital heart conditions are the most common type of birth defects in India. Many of the congenital heart defects are uncomplicated conditions that can be easily managed without any treatment. However, there are some complex congenital heart defects that may require treatment soon after birth.
Generally, most people who have complex congenital heart defects will require specialized heart care throughout their lives.
How does a heart defect develop?
In the first six weeks of pregnancy, the heart of an infant begins to take shape and beat. Congenital heart defects occur during this period of pregnancy. However, it is still unknown that what exactly causes congenital heart defects. According to some experts, it may develop due to abnormalities in chromosomes during the early stages of pregnancy. Also there are certain medications and environmental factors that may also increase the risk of congenital heart conditions.
What are the most common congenital heart conditions?
- Heart valve defects
- Abnormally formed blood vessels
- Heart muscle abnormalities that can increase the risk of heart failure
- Defects in the walls between the atria and ventricles
What are the causes of congenital heart defects?
Although the causes of congenital heart defects are still unknown, there are many factors that can increase the risk of the defects such as:
- Alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
- Smoking during pregnancy.
- Certain viral infections during the first trimester of pregnancy such as Rubella (German Measles).
- Taking certain medications during pregnancy.
- Genetic or chromosomal abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome and Diabetes.
What are the potential complications of congenital heart defects?
Few potential complications associated with congenital heart defects are:
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Emotional issues
- Congenital heart failure
- Slower growth and development
What are the signs and symptoms of complex congenital heart defects in children?
Signs and symptoms of a complex heart defect usually develop soon after the infant’s birth or within the first few months of life. Few signs and symptoms are:
- Pale grey or cyanosis (blue skin colour)
- Flared nostrils
- Rapid breathing
- Grunting when breathing
- Oedema in legs, abdomen or areas around the eyes
- Shortness of breath
What are the signs and symptoms of complex congenital heart defects in adults?
Few signs and symptoms of complex congenital heart defects in adulthood are:
- Shortness of breath
- Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
- Oedema of body tissue or organs