Understanding the Nature of Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease is a condition that impacts a number of newborns every year. With estimates as high as eight out of every thousand births involving some level of this type of cardiac illness annually, the need to understand this condition is essential for just about every family. Here are some facts about the causes of cardiovascular problems and how the condition can be successfully treated.

One of the first things to understand about cardiovascular illness that there is a range of severity. Defined as a condition in which the cardiac muscle itself or one of the large blood vessels near the heart is malformed in some manner, the seriousness of the condition will vary, depending on the size and extent of the malformation. Minor malformations may go completely undetected during pregnancy, especially since fetal circulation relies more on the placenta than on the developing heart. Of course, the condition of the cardiac system becomes immediately important once the birth has taken place.

There are several factors that can put a fetus at risk for the development of congenital heart problems. Exposure to some chemical and drugs can lead to a number of health issues for the fetus, including the abnormal development of the heart’s anatomy and blood vessels. Avoiding airborne chemicals as well as making sure not to ingest them will greatly improve the chances of a child born with a perfectly healthy cardiac anatomy. This is one of the reasons why a pediatrician will stress to the expectant mother to avoid alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy, as well as some household cleaners and other toxins.

Some illnesses during pregnancy can also increase the risk of a cardiac condition for the child. Measles, rubella and chicken pox during the natal period may adversely impact the development of the fetus. In addition, any ongoing health issues that the mother possesses may play a role in how well the fetus develops. It is also worth noting that children born with Down’s syndrome are much more likely to have some sort of cardiovascular issue than other newborns.

As every person, with a diseased heart, may have different levels of severity, the treatment will vary. Treating congenital heart disease involves evaluating the specifics of a given patient’s condition and then designing a treatment program that will meet the needs for that particular patient.