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Congenital heart disease: Warning signs you shouldn't miss

Congenital heart disease is a rare condition, which affects the structure and functioning of the heart. Find out its symptoms to ensure early detection and proper treatment.

Edited By: India TV Health Desk New Delhi Published on: April 02, 2023 10:00 IST
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Image Source : FREEPIK Congenital heart disease: signs you shouldn't miss

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a birth defect that affects the heart’s structure and its functioning. It is common and affects about 1% of babies born all over the world. Some defects are mild and don't cause problems, but others can be serious and need treatment right away.

Diagnosis 

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is typically diagnosed during infancy or before birth. Often, prenatal screening tests such as ultrasounds may detect the condition in the developing fetus. This early detection allows doctors to monitor the baby's heart development and plan for appropriate treatment after birth.

Newborns with CHD may present a range of symptoms, depending on the type and severity of the defect. When CHD is suspected, doctors may perform further diagnostic tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) or echocardiogram (ECHO), to evaluate the heart's structure and function. In some cases, a cardiac catheterization or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be necessary.

Signs and symptoms

Congenital heart disease (CHD) can present with a range of symptoms in newborns such as excessive crying, rapid breathing, sweating, trouble with feeding and poor weight gain. In some cases, the baby's skin may have a blue tint and there may be swelling in the legs, chest and abdomen. CHD may also affect the growth and development of older children and adolescents, causing fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath during normal activities and exercise. Other symptoms may include chest pain, dizziness, and fainting spells. Some babies may develop heart failure or show signs of an infection, such as a fever or a high heart rate.

What is a heart murmur?

During a physical exam, a doctor may hear an unusual sound called a heart murmur when listening to the child's heart with a stethoscope. This sound is due to blood flowing through the heart in an abnormal way. It is possible that a heart murmur may indicate a congenital heart defect, which could require additional diagnostic tests to confirm a diagnosis of Congenital heart disease. 

In recent years, significant progress has been made in medical technology, which allows doctors to diagnose heart defects even before a baby is born. Fetal echocardiography, a specialized ultrasound test, is performed between the 16th and 24th week of pregnancy to evaluate the developing baby's heart structure and function. This test allows doctors to identify any potential heart defects at an early stage and plan for appropriate management and treatment after birth. 

Early detection and treatment of CHD can also help prevent potential complications associated with the condition.

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