Congenital Heart Disease
How Can I Prevent Endocarditis?
Those with congenital heart disease are at risk for getting endocarditis, even if the heart was repaired or replaced through surgery. To protect yourself:
- Tell all doctors and dentists you have congenital heart disease. You may want to carry a card with this information.
- Call your doctor if you have symptoms of an infection (sore throat, general body aches, fever).
- Take good care of your teeth and gums to prevent infections. See your dentist for regular visits.
- Take antibiotics according to the American Heart Association guidelines before you undergo any procedure that may cause bleeding, such as: any dental work (even a basic teeth cleaning), invasive tests (any test that may involve blood or bleeding), and most major or minor surgery. Check with your doctor about the type and amount of antibiotics that you should take.
Congenital Heart Defects in Children
There are several congenital heart defects that are detected and treated early in infancy. Most of them are abnormal connections among the veins, and arteries of the heart, and arteries (such as the aortic and pulmonary arteries). These abnormal connections can allow unoxygenated blood to flow to the body instead of to the lungs, or allow oxygenated blood to flow to the lungs instead of to the body. They may also cause heart failure. Some examples of congenital heart disease in infants and children include:
- Patent ductus arteriosus (when blood bypasses the lungs preventing oxygen to circulate throughout the body).
- Tetralogy of Fallot (four different heart defects that occur together).
- Transposition of the great vessels (blood from the left side of the heart and right side of the heart intermix because the large artery connections are incorrect).
- Coarctation of the aorta (a pinched aorta).
- Heart valve problems.
What Are the Symptoms of Congenital Heart Disease in Infants and Children?
The symptoms of congenital heart disease in infants and children include:
- Cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails, and lips).
- Fast breathing and poor feeding.
- Poor weight gain.
- Recurrent lung infections.
- Inability to exercise.
How Is Congenital Heart Defects in Children Treated?
Most congenital heart defects will require surgery or an interventional procedure to repair the problem. Often children with congenital heart disease will also need treatment with medication to improve heart function as well.
Children and adults with congenital heart disease should be treated by a cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart disease. Some types of disease may require a team approach as the child grows into an adult.
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