Screen Readers Skip to Content
🖶 Print page

Congenital Heart Disease (CHD): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Published: 2009-06-09 - Updated: 2023-01-28
Author: Thomas C. Weiss | Contact: Disabled World (Disabled-World.com)
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Cardiovascular Publications

Synopsis: Information regarding Congenital (from birth) heart disease, a general term for a range of congenital disabilities that affect the way the heart works. Every year approximately thirty-six thousand children are born with CHD in America. Today, around one million persons with CHD live in the United States. Some known risk factors have been associated with the chance of getting congenital heart disease. If a parent or sibling has a genetic heart defect, the risk of having a child with a heart defect doubles.

advertisements

Main Digest

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a heart disease that is present in the person when they are born. There are a number of different forms of congenital heart defects which vary in their severity. These defects can affect different structures in the person's heart, to include the veins leading to their heart, the heart valves, the arteries that leave their heart, as well as the different interrelationships and connections between these different parts of the person's heart.

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) has included Aortic Atresia as a Compassionate Allowance, which expedites certain disability conditions claims.

Related Publications:

A doctor might suspect that a child has a heart defect if the child is not growing as they might be expected to, has a heart murmur, is experiencing cyanosis, or has difficulty breathing. Every year approximately thirty-six thousand children are born with CHD in America. Today, around one million persons with CHD live in the United States. Congenital Heart Disease is also known as

Figure A shows the structure and blood flow in the interior of a normal human heart. Figure B shows two common locations for a ventricular septal defect. The defect allows oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle to mix with oxygen-poor blood in the right ventricle.
Figure A shows the structure and blood flow in the interior of a normal human heart. Figure B shows two common locations for a ventricular septal defect. The defect allows oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle to mix with oxygen-poor blood in the right ventricle.

Causes

In most persons with congenital heart disease, the cause is unknown. Some known risk factors have been associated with the chance of getting congenital heart disease. If a parent or sibling has a congenital heart defect, the risk of having a child with a heart defect doubles. The known risk factors for congenital heart disease include:

Research into the potential causes of CHD has revealed some interesting findings. Researchers have found that infants born to mothers with diabetes are five times more likely than other infants to have heart defects. Science is starting to identify genes associated with CHD, creating the hope that the discovery of additional genes may play a role in the development of CHD, as well as discoveries of how treatments for CHD can be established.

Research has found that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy can increase the risk for a form of CHD known as 'Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA).' Mothers exposed to herbicides during pregnancy were three times more likely to have a child with TGA; women exposed to rat poison were five times as likely to have a child born with TGA. Research has also discovered that persons with oral clefts were sixteen times more likely to experience a congenital heart defect, although the reason why is unknown.

Congenital Heart Disease Symptoms

Congenital heart defects can present symptoms in persons at birth or during childhood, although sometimes symptoms may not appear until the person reaches adulthood. The most common congenital heart problems that people experience include:

Heart valve defects:

Heart valve defects such as a narrowing or stenosis of the valves or complete closure that impedes or prevents forward blood flow can occur. People experience valve defects, including leaky valves that don't close properly, allowing blood to leak backward.

Defects in the walls between the atria and ventricles of the heart: Defects in the walls between the atria and ventricles of the person's heart allow abnormal mixing of oxygenated and un-oxygenated blood between the right and left sides of the heart.

Heart Muscle Abnormalities:

Heart muscle abnormalities can lead to heart failure. The signs of CHD can vary depending upon the defects that the person experiences. Various types of congenital heart disease may lead to heart failure. Defects may cause either a mix of oxygen-poor and rich blood flow through the person's body or decreased blood flow to their lungs, resulting in an inadequate supply of oxygen. Classic signs of cyanosis include a bluish tinge around the person's skin, most often around their fingernails, tongue, and lips. Infants may feed poorly and breath quickly. Older persons can experience a lowered tolerance for exercise.

several Defects may cause cyanosis. These defects include:

Some types of CHD can lead to heart failure. Some defects permit blood to flow from the left side of the person's heart to the right side, overloading the person's heart until the heart fails. Additional defects can involve leakage of the person's heart valves that result in enlargement and decreased efficiency of one or more of their heart's chambers. The signs of heart failure can include:

Defects that may result in heart failure can include the following:

some defects are characterized by the abnormal narrowing of a structure within a person's heart. These defects are known as 'Stenotic Defects' and can cause either left or right ventricle failure, depending upon their severity. Stenotic defects can include:

Diagnosis

Often, the first thing a doctor will detect associated with a congenital heart disease is an abnormal heart sound or murmur while listening to the person's heart. Depending on the type of murmur the doctor hears, they may order additional testing. These tests may include:

There is an additional test that a doctor may need to perform that is more invasive, such as cardiac catheterization. Cardiac catheterization involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in the person's arm or leg fed into the person's heart. The catheter measures the pressures in the different chambers of the person's heart and can detect the mixing of blood between the two sides of the person's heart. Pictures of the person's heart may be taken by injecting a dye contrast through the catheter into the person's heart and great arteries. Some congenital heart lesions may be treated using interventional catheterization.

Sometimes, CHD can be diagnosed while the child is still within a mother's womb. There have been studies that show that early detection of CHD improves a newborn's chances during surgery to correct heart defects.

Treatment

CHD Treatment depends on the individual and the severity of the congenital heart disease they are experiencing. Some milder heart defects do not require treatment. Other forms of heart defects can be treated through the administration of medications. Other forms of CHD can be treated with procedures or surgery. Many adults with CHD should be monitored by a heart specialist, taking precautions to prevent endocarditis.

Several congenital heart defects require either an interventional procedure or surgery to repair the problem. Many times, children with CHD need treatment with medications as well to improve their heart function. Both children and adults with CHD should receive treatment from a cardiologist specializing in congenital heart disease. However, persons with some diseases will require a team approach as they grow into adulthood.

Doctors can detect and treat many congenital heart defects in infancy. Most involve abnormal connections among the infant's infant'sarteries and heart arteries. Examples of CHD in infants and children can include:

Medications may be the first line of treatment for many persons with CHD. There are different factors that a doctor takes into consideration, such as the severity and type of the defect the person has, their age, and additional related elements. Some of the medications that a doctor may prescribe include:

More invasive treatments may be needed if medications are ineffective. There are catheter-based procedures that can be used to treat people with CHD that may be more effective if medications have not. These procedures may include:

Surgery may become needed when none of the catheter-based procedures are effective or would be. Surgery may relieve the symptoms the person experiences yet may not cause their blood to flow normally. Examples of surgery that relieves symptoms but does not fix the underlying problem can include:

There are also forms of surgery that can improve the person's condition yet do not completely repair the person's heart. These forms of surgery include:

Author Credentials:

Thomas C. Weiss is a researcher and editor for Disabled World. Thomas attended college and university courses earning a Masters, Bachelors and two Associate degrees, as well as pursing Disability Studies. As a Nursing Assistant Thomas has assisted people from a variety of racial, religious, gender, class, and age groups by providing care for people with all forms of disabilities from Multiple Sclerosis to Parkinson's; para and quadriplegia to Spina Bifida.

Post to Twitter Add to Facebook
advertisements

Disabled World is an independent disability community established in 2004 to provide disability news and information to people with disabilities, seniors, their family and/or carers. See our homepage for informative news, reviews, sports, stories and how-tos. You can also connect with us on Twitter and Facebook or learn more about Disabled World on our about us page.

Disabled World provides general information only. The materials presented are never meant to substitute for professional medical care by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Financial support is derived from advertisements or referral programs, where indicated. Any 3rd party offering or advertising does not constitute an endorsement.


Cite This Page (APA): Thomas C. Weiss. (2009, June 9). Congenital Heart Disease (CHD): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment. Disabled World. Retrieved January 29, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/health/cardiovascular/congenital-heart-disease.php

Permalink: <a href="https://www.disabled-world.com/health/cardiovascular/congenital-heart-disease.php">Congenital Heart Disease (CHD): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment</a>