Sunday, August 7, 2011

Coping With Congenital Heart Defects

This guest article was contributed by Jennifer Bell from Health Training Guide. Check out her site to learn more about nurse practitioner training and other exciting health careers.

Coping With Congenital Heart Defect's

Congenital heart defects occur in approximately 9 out of a thousand births. By far, Most congenital heart defects are caused by genetic abnormalities, but some are caused by environmental factors the fetus is exposed to during gestation.

Forms of Congenital Heart Defects

There are several broad classifications for deformities that affect the functioning of the heart, introduced in 2000 as the International Congenital Heart Surgery Nomenclature.

Obstruction defects occur when the arteries, veins, or valves of the heart are abnormally narrow or blocked. This can lead to hypertension and an enlarged heart.

Septal defects affect the septum, a wall of tissue separating the left and right sides of the heart. This allows blood from the right and left sides of the heart to mix, reducing the effective functioning of that organ.

Hypoplasia is the underdevelopment of one of the ventricles, resulting in only half of the heart functioning as an effective pump.

The term Cyanotic defects does not denote a specific physical kind of defect, but rather refers to its effect, a blue or gray tinge to the skin due to oxygen starvation.


The most common treatment for congenital heart disease is surgery, usually paired with medications. If the heart defect is not so severe as to demand immediate treatment, doctors will generally avoid operating on an infant and correct the defect when the child is older. The usual medications involved in the treatment of congenital heart defects will include diuretics, which helps avoid buildup of fluids around the heart, and digoxin, which adds strength to the contraction of the heart. Very minor heart defects may be treated with medication and proper lifestyle.


Parents of children with congenital heart defects should first and foremost understand that the problem is almost certainly genetic and not their fault. A very commonly asked question from parents in this situation is should they be afraid to pick up their baby. Consult your doctor, but the answer is almost certainly no, it will do no harm, and babies need natural affection from their parents. The most common symptom of a heart defect will be tiring quickly. This may require extra time and patience at feeding time, as it will be more difficult for the baby to eat his fill at one go. A child with heart defects may lag somewhat behind because of this tendency to tire quickly, but there is nothing inherent in the condition to keep the child from talking, standing, walking, and meeting all the other milestones. With today's medical treatment, a child born with congenital heart defects has a very good chance of living a long and happy life, as is evidenced by the close to 2 million American adults with congenital heart defects living today.

Thank you Jennifer for your amazing contribution to our blog and for writing such a great and informational post for our readers to learn and gain from.  CHD's are close to home in our household so when i was approached by Jennifer i knew she was an angel from God and i must extend my gratitude to her for adding to the awareness movement toward creating awareness and wide spread knowledge about CHDs, what they are and how frequently they are happening.  CHD's are the number one cause of death among infants/newborns and they are also the most un-heard of medical condition's.

I decided to research some pictures to add to this blessed posting for visual understanding...

The first picture depicts a variety of CHD's that are location specific...