Congenital Heart Diseases in Adults
Adult congenital heart disease (CHD) includes a population of two types of patients. One with disease diagnosed during childhood and subsequently treated but need follow-up during adult years. The other category with disease diagnosed during adult years due to no show of symptoms. It is basically an abnormality in the structure of the heart that one is born with.
As per scientific studies, the incidence of CHD varies from 2.25 to 5.2 per 1,000 live births in India.
Adults with CHD may show the following symptoms:
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Blue-tinted skin
- Shortness of breath
- Getting tired easily
- Swelling of organs or tissues
Most defects of the heart develop when the baby is still in the mother’s womb.
- During the first month of gestation, the fetus’s heart begins to beat although the heart is not fully formed.
- It develops into the four chambers of the heart and the major blood vessels eventually.
- During this time, defects may occur due to factors such as genetics, medications, and certain medical conditions.
Even if CHD were treated during childhood, it may resurface in adult years. This happens because heart defects are not cured; they are merely repaired.
- Heart function often improves, but it is never totally normal.
- Problems that were not so serious during childhood may worsen in adulthood.
Risk factors and complications
Risk factors that are likely to lead to the development of adult CHD are:
- Mother suffering from German measles (rubella) while pregnant
- Mother suffering from type I or type II diabetes while pregnant
- Taking drugs such as isotretinoin to treat acne and lithium to treat bipolar disorder during pregnancy
- Drinking alcohol during pregnancy
- Family history of CHD
Certain CHD complications that may develop in adulthood are:
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Heart infections
- Heart failure
- Heart valve problems
- Pulmonology hypertension
Tests and diagnosis
A Cardiologist In Hyderabad conduct the following tests to diagnose adult CHD:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) The electrical activity of the heart is recorded to detect any irregular patterns of heartbeats.
- Chest X-ray The heart and the lungs can be evaluated in detail using chest X-rays.
- Echocardiogram Sound waves are used to create video images of the heart that can be used to detect abnormalities in the heart.
- Exercise stress test The heart’s electrical activity, blood pressure, and heart rate during exercise is tested to determine heart health.
- Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) In cardiac CT, an X-ray tube takes images of the heart from different angles. In cardiac MRI, magnetic fields and radio waves are used to create images of the heart.
- Cardiac catheterization This test checks the blood flow and pressure in the heart.
The treatment options depend on the severity of the condition.
- Medicine Mild congenital defects can be corrected by medication.
- Implantable heart devices Pacemakers or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators are used to control complications of adult CHD.
- Procedures using catheters Catheters are inserted into the leg vein and guided to the heart. Here, microscopic tools are used to repair heart defects.
- Open-heart surgery When catheterization techniques cannot treat the heart defect, open-heart surgery is done.
- Heart transplant For very serious cases of adult CHD, heart transplants may be recommended.