Congenital heart diseases occur due to the abnormal development of the heart during the embryonic stage of a child in the mother’s uterus. According to an estimate, 5-8 children out of 1000 are born with congenital defects of the heart. In 50% of the cases, the child requires surgical management to rectify the defect. Surgery is performed by a paediatric cardiologist.
What are the congenital defects?
Atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, patent ductus arteriosus, mitral valve stenosis, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, coarctation of aorta, tricuspid atresia, transposition of great arteries and many other defects are referred to as congenital defects of the heart.
The common symptoms of congenital heart defects include the following:
- Pale grey or blue coloured skin known as cyanosis
- Swelling around the abdomen or eyes
- Shortness of breath during feeding
These symptoms become evident within few months after birth. However, the congenital heart defects may manifest in the form of symptoms in older children. Such symptoms include breathlessness during physical activities or exercise and swollen ankles or feet.
Clinical examination by the cardiologist is essential in making a diagnosis about the exact type of problem afflicting the child’s cardiac system. There are also many types of investigative procedures that can be employed to arrive at a diagnosis and compile sufficient data in order to plan the treatment.
Regular Electrocardiogram or ECG allows the doctor to monitor the electrical activity of the child’s heart to detect any issues with the rhythm. Chest X-ray can also be done to find out whether or not the heart is enlarged. A regular echocardiogram is also a potent method of detecting any kind of defect in the child’s heart. Nowadays, foetal echocardiogram is also being used to get a picture of the child’s heart even before he/she is born.
The congenital heart disease treatment cost depends upon whether the cardiologist is depending upon medicines to treat the child or is opting for surgical interventions. There are many surgical procedures depending upon the type of defect that the child is suffering from. Some examples have been detailed here:
Patent Ductus Arteriosus ligation is done to correct PDA. PDA occurs when a blood vessel between the pulmonary artery and aorta fail to close after birth. In this process, a coil or other device is put into the PDA of the child to block the blood flow.
Atrial Septal Defect is failure of the opening between right and left atria to close after birth. Open heart surgery is performed to repair this defect by closing it with stitches, sutures or man-made membranes. Similar procedure is performed for VSD.
Transposition of the great arteries occurs when aorta and pulmonary artery come out of the heart in opposite directions instead of emerging from the left and right portion of the heart respectively. Repair of this defect is done by dividing the aorta and pulmonary artery and connecting them to their correct positions.
The cost of congenital heart disease treatment in India is about 1/4th the cost in European nations. Thus, India is an affordable treatment destination.