How serious is CHD?

Congenital heart defects are also referred to as CHDs. These are heart conditions that a baby is born with. As one of the most common birth defects in the world, sometimes they are easy to live with. Other times they are considered critical. Babies with critical CHDs often need surgery or other treatment within one year of birth. Without it, they can die. Every baby with a CHD at birth is checked to see if they are critical. CHD Awareness is important because it can help to reduce the number of babies born with them in preventable cases.

How Heart Defects Affect a Baby

Heart defects can affect different parts of a baby’s heart such as the chambers, the septum, and the valves. It can also affect the arteries and veins near the heart. These defects essentially all affect the blood flow, which causes the blood to slow down. It can also go in the wrong direction, or even to the wrong place. Sometimes it may be blocked or not have enough oxygen to carry throughout the body.

Examples of Critical CHDs

Coarctation of the Aorta

Also called a COA, in this condition, part of the aorta is too narrow. It can reduce or block the flow of blood to the body. During this time the heart muscles will have to work harder to get the blood out of the heart. This can cause extra stress and eventually weaken the heart muscle. Usually, this is treated with a procedure called balloon angioplasty.

Dextro-Transposition of the Great Arteries

Also called d-TGA, babies born with this have positions of two important arteries switched. This leads to blood being pumped into the body without enough oxygen. Usually, surgery is needed immediately to help get oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. Medicine is often used to lower blood pressure and get rid of extra fluid.

Interrupted aortic arch

Another name for this is an IAA, and it is when part of the aorta is missing. This means that the heart is unable to send blood through the aorta to get into the rest of the body.

Pulmonary Atresia

This condition is when the heart does not form the pulmonary valve properly. This is a problem because the pulmonary valve helps the flow of blood move from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs. This blocks blood from flowing to the lungs and providing oxygen.

Single Ventricle Defects

In this group of conditions, a baby has one ventricle that works, but the other one does not. Single ventricle defects include an Ebstein anomaly, which involves the tricuspid valve. It means the blood can leak into the wrong part of the heart. Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is also called HLHS. It means the left side has not formed properly, and it cannot pump blood to the body properly.

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