What is a congenital hole in the heart?
Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common types of birth defects. Congenital heart defects are abnormalities in the structure of the heart present at birth. One type of congenital heart defect is called a heart hole, which involves abnormal openings between different parts of the heart. These holes can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart and may lead to various complications.Though hole in heart by birth is the most common name we have heard of, there are different types of heart holes that can occur, including atrial septal defects (ASDs) and ventricular septal defects (VSDs). ASDs are openings in the wall (septum) that separates the two upper chambers of the heart, known as the atria. VSDs, on the other hand, are openings in the septum that separates the two lower chambers, known as the ventricles.
How prevalent it is in India?
According to a published study, considering a birth prevalence of congenital heart disease as 9/1000, the estimated number of children born with congenital heart disease in India is more than 200,000 per year. Of these, about one-fifth are likely to have serious defect, requiring an intervention in the first year of life. Currently advanced cardiac care is available to only a minority of such children. A number of cardiac centers have been developed over the last 10 years. However, most are in the private sector, and are not geographically well-distributed. Challenges to pediatric cardiac care include financial constraints, health-seeking behavior of community, and lack of awareness.
(Indian Pediatr 2018 Dec 15;55(12):1075-1082
What are the causes for congenital heart defects?
The causes of heart defects among most children are often unknown. Some babies have heart defects because of changes in their genes or chromosomes. According to the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, heart defects also are thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and other risk factors, such as the things the mother comes in contact within the environment or what the mother eats or drinks or exposure to certain medications or substances during pregnancy. In some cases, the exposure of the mother to viruses such as Rubella and Measles can also predispose the babu from developing a hole in heart by birth.
When can it be detected?
In most cases, heart holes are detected and diagnosed during infancy or childhood. Some common signs and symptoms include difficulty breathing, poor growth and weight gain, cyanosis (bluish tint to the skin), recurrent respiratory infections, and fatigue. However, not all individuals with heart holes may experience these symptoms, and the severity of the defects can vary greatly.
Diagnosis of hole in heart by birth typically involves a combination of physical exams, imaging tests (such as echocardiography), and electrocardiograms (ECGs). Once diagnosed, treatment options will depend on the size, location, and severity of the defect. In some cases, small holes may close on their own as the child grows, while larger or problematic holes may require surgical intervention.
Can a hole in the heart be cured without surgery?
A hole in the heart, also known as a congenital heart defect, is a structural abnormality that typically requires surgical or non-surgical interventions to repair. While some mild cases may not require surgery and can be managed with medication and observation, there is no known natural treatment for this condition.
Advancements in medical technology and surgical techniques have greatly improved the outcomes for individuals with congenital heart holes. Many children with heart holes go on to live healthy and normal lives after treatment.
However, treatment for congenital heart defects is expensive and not many people can afford to pay for the treatment. These families either rely on donation for heart surgery free online or no NGOs to help support with the cost of the treatment.
A one-year-old baby from Maharashtra was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect during one of the screening camps conducted by Genesis Foundation, an NGO that supports children born with a congenital heart defect,
The baby had breathing problems and faced difficulty in gaining weight. The medications provided temporary relief only. After a proper screening by expert doctors, the child was diagnosed with a Ventricular Septal Defect with a moderate Patent Ductus Arteriosus. This meant that the child by birth had a hole in his heart.
He required an urgent VSD Surgical Closure with PDA Ligation. His father, being a barber, was in no position to afford the expensive surgery. Genesis Foundation was able to support tis surgery and the child is now leading a normal life.
Despite the progress made in understanding and treating congenital heart holes, there is ongoing research to unravel the mystery of their development. Scientists are studying the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to these defects, as well as exploring potential preventive measures. The goal is to further enhance early detection, improve treatment strategies, and ultimately reduce the occurrence of congenital heart holes.
In conclusion, where congenital heart holes remain mystery for the medical fraternity around the world and we are failing to create awareness and right kind of noise around it. There are NGOs like Genesis Foundation who are tirelessly working towards providing early treatment & intervention to the children suffering from these congenital heart defects. These children are the future of our country, and the NGOs like Genesis Foundation give hope that there is someone who genuinely cares about saving these little hearts and giving them an equal chance at life.
As Winston Churchill once said- “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”.