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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What types of problems can congenital heart defects cause?

    I would like to understand how heart defects in a baby can effect it’s overall health. Can someone please explain this to me?
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  • 3


    Dr Sylvia Chen

    Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

    Dr Chen is a Specialist Cardiologist in Adult Congenital Heart Disease and in Cardiovascular MRI. She trained in Royal Brompton and University College Hospitals, London. … View Profile

    It depends on what type of anomaly the child has. However, in general terms, the congenital defects may affect the heart by causing one or more of the following:

    1. Disruption in blood flow somewhere in the pathway (and this will depend on the underlying anomaly) from the venous network (filled with deoxygenated blood) to the lungs (to pick up oxygen) and then to arterial network (filled with oxygenated blood). Hence the child may have low oxygen levels.
    2. Volume or pressure overloading of the heart (depending again, on the type of anomaly) and therefore subsequently, heart failure
    3. Arrhythmia (rhythm abnormalities)
    4. Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs) causing right heart failure, deoxygenation (and therefore failure to thrive or grow), arrhythmia and exercise intolerance

    The above are some of the sequalae of congenital heart anomalies. There are many types of congenital heart anomalies, so the consequence of the anomalies will depend on the underlying type of defect. The less complex defects that have been repaired will be expected to have less problems in the future.

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