Congenital heart disease, also known as CHD, is a name for a range of birth defects that affect the normal way the heart works. Congenital is a word that means a “condition present from birth.” Although one of the most common types of birth defects, it is not given much publicity. This is why we need more CHD awareness. Now, you may be asking yourself, What is CHD Awareness?
More About CHD
In most cases, there is no obvious cause of congenital heart disease identified. There are certain conditions that are known to increase the risk of this condition:
- Down’s syndrome: Genetic disorder that affects a baby’s normal physical development and causes learning difficulties.
- Mother having infections such as Rubella
- Taking certain types of medicine during pregnancy, such as acne medication
- Smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy
- Mother having poorly controlled type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes
- Chromosome defects, where genes may be altered, can run in the family
Signs and Symptoms
Congenital heart disease may have a number of symptoms, especially in babies or children. These include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Swelling of the legs, stomach, or around the eyes
- Extreme tiredness and fatigue
- Blue tinge to the skin (known as cyanosis)
- Tiredness and rapid breathing when a baby is feeding
These problems are often noticeable soon after birth, but mild defects may not cause any problems until later in life.
Types of Congenital Heart Disease
There are many types of congenital heart disease. Sometimes they even occur in combination. Common defects include:
- Septal defects: This is when there is a hole between two of the heart’s chambers (commonly referred to as a “hole in the heart”)
- Coarctation of the aorta: This is when the main large artery of the body is smaller than normal. This blocks blood flow.
- Pulmonary valve stenosis: When the pulmonary valve, which controls the flow of blood out of the lower right chamber of the heart to the lungs, is narrower than normal, it causes trouble.
- Transposition of the great arteries: The pulmonary and aortic valves and the arteries are connected and in this case, they have swapped positions.
- Underdeveloped heart: When part of the heart does not develop properly making it difficult for it to pump enough blood around the body or lungs.
February was named American Heart Month by the American Heart Association (AHA). To kick off the campaign, Friday, Feb. 5 is National Wear Red Day. This is part of CHD awareness that helps to bring light to the estimated 630,000 Americans who die from heart disease each year, the leading cause of death for both men and women.
If you are interested to learn more, visit us at Conquering CHD. We can help you to understand this disease and get help if your child suffers from CHD.