Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital heart disease is the classification of heart disease in which the defect of the heart is present at birth. An estimated minimum of 32,000 infants, or 8:1000 births, are expected to be affected every year in the United States. Approximately twenty five percent of these will require invasive treatment at some point during the first year of life. An estimated one in fifty adults in the United States are living with some form of congenital heart disease. Due to the fact these defects range in severity from tiny pinholes between the chambers of the heart that may resolve spontaneously, to defects so severe multistage surgeries or heart transplants are necessary, exact numbers of those affected are not known.
A fetus's heart begins to develop at conception, but is completely formed by eight weeks of age. Specific steps must occur during these first crucial weeks for the heart to develop correctly and be able to perform its duty of circulating blood through the body efficiently. If one of these steps fail to take place at the right time during its formation, a congenital heart defect may occur. A single defect may develop or multiple abnormalities may happen. Congenital heart defects, can be further categorized into cyanotic (blue discoloration caused by a relative lack of oxygen) and non-cyanotic.
* a hole (Foramen Ovale), where a dividing wall (septum) should have formed- a Ventricular Septal Defect (Non-Cyanotic)
* a small blood vessel called the Ductus Arteriosis, remaining open causing some of the blood destined for the lungs to be rerouted to the aorta, limiting the blood supply to the lungs once they are in use at birth - Patent Ductus Arteriosis (Non-Cyanotic)
* a narrowing or blockage of the aortic valve opening, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the aorta on to the rest of the body - Aortic Stenosis (Non-Cyanotic)
* the positions of the aorta and pulmonary artery are...