Congenital Heart Disease (cont.)
In this Article
- What are congenital heart defects?
- How the heart works
- What are the types of congenital heart defects?
- What are other names for congenital heart defects?
- What causes congenital heart defects?
- What are the signs and symptoms and signs of congenital heart defects?
- How are congential heart defects diagnosed??
- How are congenital heart defects treated?
- Living with a congenital heart defect
- Congenital Heart Disease At A Glance
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
What are other names for congenital heart defects?
- Congenital heart disease
- Cyanotic heart disease
- Heart defects
- Congenital cardiovascular malformations
What causes congenital heart defects?
If you have a child with a congenital heart defect, you may think you did something wrong during your pregnancy to cause the problem. However, most of the time doctors don't know why congenital heart defects develop.
Heredity may play a role in some heart defects. For example, a parent who has a congenital heart defect may be more likely than other people to have a child with the condition. In rare cases, more than one child in a family is born with a heart defect. Children with genetic defects often have congenital heart defects. An example of this is Down syndrome - half of all babies with Down syndrome have congenital heart defects.
Scientists continue to search for the causes of congenital heart defects.
What are the signs and symptoms and signs of congenital heart defects?
Many congenital heart defects have few or no symptoms. A doctor may not even detect signs of a heart defect during a physical exam.
Some heart defects do have symptoms. These depend on the number and type of defects and how severe the defects are. Severe defects can cause symptoms, usually in newborn babies. These symptoms can include:
- Rapid breathing
- Cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin, lips, and
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Poor blood circulation
Congenital heart defects don't cause chest pain or other painful symptoms.
Abnormal blood flow through the heart caused by a heart defect will make a certain sound. Your doctor can hear this sound, called a heart murmur, with a stethoscope. However, not all murmurs are a sign of a congenital heart defect. Many healthy children have heart murmurs.
Normal growth and development depend on a normal workload for the heart and normal flow of oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body. Babies with congenital heart defects may have cyanosis or tire easily when feeding. Sometimes they have both problems. As a result, they may not gain weight or grow as they should.
Older children may get tired easily or short of breath during exercise or activity. Many types of congenital heart defects cause the heart to work harder than it should. In severe defects, this can lead to heart failure, a condition in which the heart can't pump blood strongly throughout the body. Symptoms of heart failure include:
- Fatigue with exercise
- Shortness of breath
- A buildup of blood and fluid in the lungs
- A buildup of fluid in the feet, ankles, and legs
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