TREATMENTS FOR CONGENITAL HEART DISEASE
Congenital heart problems range from simple to complex. Some heart problems can be watched by your child's cardiologist and managed with medicines, while others will require heart surgery or cardiac catheterization — sometimes as soon as in the first few hours after birth.
A child may even "grow out" of some of the simpler heart problems, such as patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) or atrial septal defect (ASD). These conditions may simply settle on their own as the child grows. Other children will have more complex forms of congenital heart disease, or a combination of different types, and require several operations or catheter interventions and ongoing care throughout their lives.
Some types of (CHD), such as the holes that occur with ASD, VSD, and PDA, may close on their own in the first few days after birth. If this does not happen, a small hole may not need to be treated. Treatment for any type of disease, including valves, depends on the patient's symptoms.
If a defect is small, and if the person has few to no symptoms, a doctor might advise waiting to see if the defect might improve over time. This may be done especially for a VSD, which can close in the first few years of life.
There are various medications that can help the heart work more efficiently and relieve the symptoms. Some can also be used to prevent blood clots from forming or to control an irregular heartbeat.
Implantable Heart Devices
Some of the complications associated with congenital heart defects can be prevented with the use of certain devices, including pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). A pacemaker can help regulate an abnormal heart rate, and an ICD may correct life-threatening irregular heartbeats.
Catheterization techniques allow doctors to repair certain congenital heart defects without surgically opening the chest and heart. During these procedures, the doctor will insert a thin tube into a vein in the leg and guide it up to the heart. Once the catheter is in the correct position, the doctor will use small tools threaded through the catheter to correct the defect. For certain people this procedure can:
Treat a valve with stenosis. This is done by inserting and inflating a small balloon in the valve. This procedure, called a valvuloplasty, widens the valve and allows it to work properly.
Repair the abnormal openings in the heart: ASD, VSD, PDA.
Close the abnormal openings in the heart. With PDA, for instance, a very small closure device can be inserted into the catheter. When positioned inside the hole, the device is released and can close the opening.
This type of surgery may be needed if catheter procedures aren't enough to repair a congenital heart defect. A surgeon may perform open-heart surgery to close holes in the heart, repair heart valves, or widen blood vessels.
Sometimes open-heart surgery is the best form of treatment, especially if the person has a number of types of congenital heart disease.
In the rare cases in which a congenital heart defect is too complex to fix, a heart transplant may be needed. During this procedure, the child's heart is replaced with a healthy heart from a donor.
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