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Frequently Asked Questions about Pediatric Cardiology

Q) What are the various kinds of heart diseases in children ?

A) According to estimation, 1 in every 10 or 12 children is born with a congenital heart defect.

Congenital heart defects are inclusive of a number of conditions. There are approximately 100s of types, and thus making an exact diagnosis is sometimes a challenging thing. Following are the general heart defects:

  • First one, are holes in one’s heart or great vessels: The examples of such kinds of holes in the heart of a child are inclusive of Atrial Septal Defect that is ASD, Ventricular Septal Defect that is VSD and Patent Ductus Arteriosus that is PDA
  • Second is, conditions resulting in the child becoming a blue baby: This sort of a condition is also known as Cyanotic Heart Defect whose examples are inclusive of Tetralogy of Fallot’s that is TOF and Transposition that is TGA.
  • Third is, congenital narrowing of heart valves or vessels: The examples are inclusive of congenital narrowing of the pulmonary or aortic valve.

There are chances that around 30 percent of congenital heart defects are life threatening in the early parts in life and require a proper amount of attention in infancy only.

The statistics show that Rheumatic heart disease gives trouble to a large number of school-going children in India as well as other developing countries. In such sort of a defect, the heart valves seriously get damaged and as a result many children as the time passes, require a surgery or balloon procedure in the cardiac catheterization laboratory.

Q) How do congenital heart diseases get developed ?

A) In most cases, the causes of the development of congenital heart disease are not known. There are few chances that a viral infection in the mother during the first few stages of pregnancy might result in a serious heart problem. For instance, the heart of a child might not get properly developed if the mother gets German Measles in the first three months of pregnancy.

Another important factor is heredity. There are some other conditions also that affect multiple organs, like Down’s syndrome or Mongolism, can also have an ill-effect on the heart. Along with this, there are some other drugs, if consumed at the time of pregnancy, may also which can also have an effect on the development of the heart. Consuming alcohol can also have a harmful effect on the normal development of a heart.

Q) What are the general symptoms of heart defects in children ?

A) Following are the general symptoms of heart disease in infants:

  • Improper growth
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Excess of sweating
  • Frequency of infection in the chest
  • Blueness of lips, fingers and toes
  • Difficulty with feeding

Q) What is the kind of care which is necessary for children with heart defect ?

A) For a proper amount of care of a child with a heart defect, a highly co-ordinated attempt from the side of a team of trained personnel is quite necessary which is inclusive of pediatric cardiologists, pediatric cardiac surgeons, intensive care physicians and intensive care nurses. Along with this, a whole range of latest equipments is needed, which might be quite costly. The establishment of an infrastructure for the care of a child with a heart defect requires huge investments which few institutions in India can afford it.

Q) Is any other cure for heart defects other than surgery ?

A) Most of the heart defects require an open-heart operation but today due to advancement in technology in cardiac catheterization field, closure of some patients with heart disease is possible without an operation. The trauma of surgery becomes nil and recovery becomes rapid. Some of such heart defects are Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) and some patients with Ventricular Septal Defects.

Q) What are the available resources in India to treat children with heart defects ?

A) Today, there are a number of institutions in India that have a complete infrastructure for newborn as well as infant heart surgery. All of these have adult cardiac surgery programs and infrastructure, which is also shared by pediatric cardiac services. As per statistics, around 1500 neonatal and infant heart operations are performed in India each year.


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