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Pediatric » Pediatric Orthopedics

Complications in Congenital Heart Diseases

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Corrected or not, even after years of paediatric cardiac surgery, a heart complication could arise. With congenital heart diseases, these complications might start showing after the initial treatment, at a very young stage or any point in adulthood.

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The nature of these complications varies, depending on the severity of the disease. However, certain common ones should be kept in mind for all kinds of CHD patients.

Heart Failure

If at any point, a heart is unable to pump the needed amount of blood, it fails. In the case of congenital heart diseases, it is possible that over time, a heart loses the capability to work as efficiently as it should.

The symptoms include increasingly difficult breathing and irregular heart beats.

Heart Murmur

The ‘murmur’ here is the sound that is heard between two heartbeats. When the blood has to flow through a valve that has particular problems, or when the heart has to beat faster and thus, has to handle more blood more quickly than it’s used to, a humming or swishing sound can be heard coming from the chest using a stethoscope.

Murmurs are usually innocent. However, if a CHD patient suffers from this issue after treatment, this murmur can be a way of their body saying that there is a problem with the heart valves.

While murmurs are also related to ageing, the most common conclusion it directs people to is about an overworked or damaged valve.

Arrhythmias

A heart has a rhythm that it follows while beating. Electrical impulses in the heart work as coordinators to ensure that the beat is followed. When these signals go awry, the beating could get too slow, or too fast, or become irregular.

The tampering of the electrical impulses (the rhythm coordinators) could be a result of the congenital heart defect, or it could be a consequence of the scar tissue that a previous corrective surgery left behind.

Arrhythmias is treatable. However, if ignored, it could keep on getting severe and could result in a cardiac arrest.

Endocarditis

A human heart has four chambers. It also has four valves. Each of these valves has an inner lining of thin membrane called the endocardium. An infection of this endocardium is called endocarditis.

Infection occurs primarily when a bacteria enters the body’s bloodstream and takes shelter in the heart. In instances where a person has had a prosthetic valve fitted in, abnormally shaped or broken ones can also cause endocarditis.

Antibiotics, strictly prescribed by the doctors, can help reduce the chances of a valve infection.

Stroke

A stroke can occur when the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients which could happen when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted or reduced to a great extent.

In the cases of congenital heart diseases, it is possible that a blood clot is allowed passage to the brain which increases the risk of a stroke. Irregular beating rhythms can also lead to a stroke and hence needs to be kept under control.

Other Complications

A congenital heart condition can cause other complications irrespective of any corrective paediatric cardiac surgery. Apart from the ones mentioned, there are other complications like developmental delay, clubbing, polycythemia, brain trouble, nerve-wracking, or an increase in the presence of blood clots.

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