Congenital Heart Disease: Coping Strategies
any people with congenital heart disease experience depression, anxiety or stress. It’s normal to feel these things; talking about them with someone you trust can help.
Despite this, most children and adults with congenital heart disease live happy, healthy and productive lives. Managing their condition with routine follow-up care, taking care of their mental health and monitoring their conditions can help reduce complications and improve their quality of life.
What Are The Symptoms?
A congenital heart disease is a group of conditions where the chambers, walls and valves of your heart don’t develop normally. It ranges from minor defects that never cause problems to more serious ones that require treatment.
Some of the most common defects in children include holes in your heart (atrial or ventricular septal defect), abnormal blood vessels near the heart (such as patent ductus arteriosus) and problems with the heart’s valves.
These defects can affect the flow of oxygen-rich blood. From your lungs into your heart (see above) and your heart into your body. They also can cause fluid to build up in your lungs (pulmonary edema).
Some defects can lead to heart failure, where your heart can’t pump blood effectively. This can result in shortness of breath, chest pain and other symptoms.
Many people with congenital heart disease live everyday, healthy lives. This is because advances in medical care have helped make the outlook for children with heart disease better than ever before. There are even online organizations like Conquering CHD that could help you mentally and financially in terms of how they can live with having CHD.
What Are The Treatments?
Congenital heart disease (CHD) can be treated with surgery, medications and other treatment options. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes to manage your condition.
A healthy diet, a low-fat, high-protein diet and a moderate amount of exercise are essential. Avoidance of smoking and alcohol use is also recommended.
Some CHDs can be repaired using thin, flexible tubes (catheters) that don’t need open-heart surgery. These procedures can be used to close holes in the heart or to repair a narrowed valve or artery.
Another common defect causing cyanosis is a ventricular septal defect. In this defect, the left side of the heart does not form properly, so the blood goes back to the right ventricle before it gets to the lungs to pick up oxygen.
Some CHDs can be treated with medication to help control blood pressure, reduce stress on the heart or improve irregular heart rhythms. These drugs include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta blockers and heart rhythm medicines.
What Are The Risks?
Many cases of congenital heart disease are due to gene mutations that make your baby’s heart not develop normally. But other conditions can also cause heart defects. Those are usually caused by things you do during pregnancy or environmental exposure.
You can lower your risk of having a baby with heart defects by managing your health conditions before you get pregnant. Having diabetes, taking certain medicines while pregnant (anticoagulants or antiepileptics), or eating a low-protein diet before getting pregnant can all lower your baby’s chances of having a congenital heart defect.
Sometimes your child may need a fetal echocardiogram to determine if they have a heart defect before birth. This ultrasound is done in addition to the routine antenatal ultrasound scans.
What Are The Long-Term Effects?
When a child is born with a congenital heart defect, it may affect their health later in life. They may have health problems such as breathing issues, diabetes or kidney disease, and other health conditions.
In some cases, children with serious CHDs may need a heart transplant later in life. This is because a damaged heart doesn’t work as well as one without a defect.
The risk of blood clots developing inside the hearts of many people with congenital heart disease increases and moves to the lungs or brain, increasing the risk of pulmonary embolism (where the blood supply to the lungs is blocked) or stroke. These blood clots can be dissolved or removed with medicines.
According to a study, people with congenital heart surgery in childhood are at an increased risk of long-term morbidity and a lower level of education and employment compared with matched controls. These risks occur even when the defect is mild.