30 March 2023
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a type of birth defect that affects the structure and function of the heart. It is a common condition that affects around 1% of live births worldwide. The severity of the condition can vary widely, from mild defects that do not cause symptoms to life-threatening conditions that require immediate treatment.
Dr. Tapan Kumar Dash, Clinical Director and Head of Department - Paediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery, CARE Hospitals Banjara Hills, Hyderabad says, “The diagnosis of CHD is often made in infancy or even before birth. In some cases, the condition may be detected during routine prenatal ultrasound screening. This allows doctors to monitor the baby's heart development and plan for appropriate management and treatment after birth. Newborns with CHD may exhibit a range of symptoms, depending on the type and severity of the defect.”
Common signs and symptoms may include irritability, inconsolable crying, rapid breathing, excessive sweating, and difficulties in feeding and gaining weight. Some babies may also have bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis), water accumulation in the chest, leg swelling, and an absent or rapid pulse. In older children and adolescents, CHD may affect growth and development and produce weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath during normal activities and exercise. Some children may also experience chest pain, dizziness, or fainting spells.
According to Dr. Dash, during a physical examination, a doctor may detect a heart murmur, which is an abnormal sound caused by turbulent blood flow through the heart. This may indicate the presence of a heart defect and prompt further diagnostic testing for Congenital heart disease.
To confirm a diagnosis of CHD, several basic investigations may be recommended, including echocardiography, chest X-ray, and electrocardiography (ECG). These tests help to evaluate the structure and function of the heart and identify any abnormalities. In some cases, additional tests such as CT scan, MRI scan, and cardiac catheterization may be necessary to supplement the diagnosis and plan for treatment.
Dr. Dash says, “In recent years, advances in medical technology have made it possible to diagnose some heart defects even before a baby is born. Fetal echocardiography, a specialized ultrasound test, can be performed between 16-24 weeks of pregnancy to evaluate the developing baby's heart structure and function. This early detection allows doctors to plan for appropriate management and treatment after birth, which can significantly improve outcomes for affected infants.”
Reference Link: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/congenital-heart-disease-symptoms-you-shouldnt-miss/photostory/99113269.cms?picid=99113343