Cardiac Conditions

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Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return

A defect in which one or more of the four pulmonary veins, which normally return oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the heart, return to the wrong chamber in the heart.

Symptoms

  • No symptoms – in some cases, no symptoms will be present
  • Rapid breathing
  • Blue tint to the skin (cyanosis)
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Fatigue/Lethargy
  • Poor appetite or growth in infants

Treatment

Surgery is required to correct the orientation of the pulmonary veins. Any other defects are normally corrected at this time as well.

Arrhythmia

If you have an abnormal heart rhythm (an arrhythmia), your heart rate is abnormally fast, slow or even irregular. “Normal” heart rates differ depending on your age, activity level, medications you may be taking, as well as any preexisting heart conditions that you may have.

Symptoms

There are a variety of symptoms that may be caused by arrhythmias ranging from a simple awareness of your heart beating to lightheadedness, blurred vision and cardiac arrest. Other symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and fainting. The symptoms that occur depend on your heart rate during the arrhythmia, your activity at the time of the arrhythmia, and the possibility of structural heart problems.

Treatment

Your physician may recommend monitoring your arrhythmia if it is mild. For more difficult or life-threatening arrhythmias, a pacemaker or other device may be implanted. These devices are designed to send electric shocks to the heart in case of an arrhythmia, essentially resetting your heartbeat to a normal rhythm.

Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD)

ARVD is a rare type of cardiomyopathy that occurs if the muscle tissue in the right ventricle is infiltrated by scar tissue. This process disrupts the heart's electrical system causing arrhythmias. It usually affects teens and young adults.

Symptoms

  • Heart palpitations
  • Fainting after physical activity
  • Can cause sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes

Treatment

Medications, surgery, catheter ablation or a pacemaker may be recommended depending on the severity of your ARVD.

Aortic Stenosis

A narrowing of the aortic valve that causes the heart to work harder to pump blood.

Symptoms

  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Heart murmur
  • Heart palpitations

Treatment

Medications can help relieve symptoms, though surgery is required to repair the valve. Depending on the severity of your stenosis, your physician may recommend no treatment and will monitor your condition.

Atrial Fibrillation

Also called a-fib, atrial fibrillation is a common condition known as an irregular heartbeat.

Symptoms

  • No symptoms – in some cases, no symptoms will be present
  • Occasional heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

Treatment

Medications, catheter ablation or cardioversion therapy can help with a-fib.

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)

Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the wall that separates the upper chambers, or atria, of the heart. This causes blood to leak from one atrium to the other.

Symptoms

No symptoms – in some cases, no symptoms will be present until middle age

  • Heart murmur
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in legs and feet

Treatment

ASD can heal on its own, and the most common treatment includes monitoring by your physician. For larger defects, surgery is performed to correct the defect.

Atrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD)

includes an ASD, VSD, and abnormal development of the atrioventricular valves (these are the tricuspid and mitral valves). This causes blood to flow abnormally inside the heart. An AVSD is also known as an atrioventricular canal defect

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Symptoms

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blue tint to the skin/lips (cyanosis)
  • Newborns with AVSD will show signs of heart failure

Treatment

Surgery is used to fix the defect.

Cardiomyopathy

A disease of the heart muscle that reduces the heart's ability to pump blood effectively, there are different kinds of cardiomyopathy that cause the heart muscle to enlarge, thicken, or become stiff. Cardiomyopathy can be due to a number of causes, including viral infections and certain medications, or it can be inherited. Often, the exact cause is never found

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Cardiomyopathy can lead to irregular heart rhythms or heart failure. It prevents the heart muscle from pumping enough blood to meet the body's needs.

Viral infections that infect the heart are a major cause of cardiomyopathy. In some instances, cardiomyopathy is a result of another disease or its treatment, such as a complex congenital heart defect, nutritional deficiencies, very fast heart rhythms, or certain types of chemotherapy for cancer. Sometimes, cardiomyopathy can be linked to a genetic abnormality. Other times, the cause is unknown.

There are 4 types of cardiomyopathy that can affect both adults and children:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmic right ventricular dysplasia (rare)

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

The most common form of cardiomyopathy, it causes the heart muscle to become enlarged and stretched (dilated), causing the heart to become weak and pump inefficiently. Problems that may occur with dilated cardiomyopathy include irregular heart rhythms, risk of blood clots, heart failure and a leaky mitral valve.

Various infections (including viral) which lead to inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) can cause this type of cardiomyopathy. Contact with toxins or very powerful therapeutic drugs, such as certain types of chemotherapy given to fight cancer, have been known to cause dilated cardiomyopathy. Heredity can also be a factor. About 20% of people with dilated cardiomyopathy have a parent or sibling with the disease. In many cases, a specific cause for this type of the disease is never found.

Symptoms

  • Pale or ashen skin color
  • Cool, sweaty skin
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Chest pain
  • Poor appetite
  • Slow growth

Treatment

Each treatment is designed to fit the needs of your health. Due to the wide variety of health conditions you may experience due to dilated cardiomyopathy, there is no one treatment. Treatment is designed to help the heart beat more effectively, decrease the workload of the heart, decrease the oxygen requirements of the heart, prevent blood clots from forming, decrease inflammation of the heart and regulate irregular heartbeats.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the muscle of the heart becomes thicker than normal, obstructing blood flow to the rest of the body. The thickened muscle can also affect the mitral valve, which separates the left atrium and the left ventricle. The valve becomes leaky, allowing blood to move backwards from the left ventricle into the left atrium, instead of forward to the rest of the body.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is often inherited. About one-half of children with the disease have a parent or sibling with varying degrees of left ventricular muscle or ventricular wall enlargement, although relatives may or may not have symptoms.

Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath on exertion
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Abnormal heart rhythms

Treatment

Each treatment is designed to fit the needs of your health. Due to the wide variety of health conditions you may experience due to dilated cardiomyopathy, there is no one treatment. Treatment is designed to decrease the workload of the heart, decrease the oxygen requirements of the heart and regulate irregular heartbeats. Surgical treatment may include removal of part of the enlarged muscle, implantation of a pacemaker or defibrillator or heart transplant.

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy

Tthe least common type of cardiomyopathy in the United States, restrictive cardiomyopathy occurs when the myocardium of the ventricles becomes excessively stiff. When this happens, the ventricles are not able to relax to fill with blood between heart beats. This condition occurs rarely in children.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy usually results from an underlying condition that affects the rest of the body. However, in some cases the cause is unknown. Restrictive cardiomyopathy does not appear to be inherited, but some of the diseases that lead to the condition may be genetically transmitted.

Conditions that may be associated with the development of restrictive cardiomyopathy include Scleroderma, Amyloidosis, Sarcoidosis, Mucopolysaccharidosis, cancer and radiation therapy for cancer treatment.

Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath on exertion
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Swelling of the extremities

Treatment

Each treatment is designed to fit the needs of your health. Due to the wide variety of health conditions you may experience due to dilated cardiomyopathy, there is no one treatment. Treatment is designed to decrease the workload of the heart, decrease the oxygen requirements of the heart, prevent blood clots from forming and regulate irregular heartbeats. Surgical treatment may include pacemaker or defibrillator insertion or a heart transplant.

Cardiovascular Disease

A group of heart conditions that includes genetic/structural problems of the heart, blood clots and diseased vessels. Examples include stroke, high blood pressure, heart murmur and more.

Coarctation of the Aorta

A narrowing of the aorta, it slows or blocks blood flow from the heart to the body. Coarctation of the Aorta is often associated with other heart defects.

Symptoms

  • No symptoms – in some cases, no symptoms will be present until middle age
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Enlarged heart
  • Poor appetite

No treatment and monitoring is the most common recommendation for mild cases. Surgery can be used to correct defects, especially in more severe cases.

Congenital Heart Disease

Problems with the structure of your heart that are present from birth. Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect.

Symptoms

  • No symptoms – in some cases, no symptoms will be present
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble exercising
  • Blue tint to the skin/lips (cyanosis)
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Rapid breathing

Treatment

Depending on the severity of the defect, no treatment may be prescribed and your physician may monitor your condition. Medication can be used to alleviate symptoms and surgery is a common treatment for severe defects.

Congestive Heart Failure

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body's organs. The heart keeps pumping, but not as efficiently as a healthy heart. Usually, heart failure reflects a progressive, underlying heart condition.

Heart failure can be caused by a number of underlying health conditions, including but not limited to congenital heart defects, enlargement of the heart, heart valve disease, cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), chronic lung disease, anemia (uncommon in children), viral infection, high blood pressure (hypertension), hemorrhage (excessive bleeding), overactive thyroid, postoperative complications and medication side effects, especially those from certain chemotherapy drugs.

Symptoms

  • Visible swelling of the legs, ankles, eyelids, face, and (occasionally) abdomen
  • Abnormally fast breathing
  • Shortness of breath or labored breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Falling asleep when feeding or becoming too tired to eat
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight gain over a short period of time, even when the appetite is poor, typically due to fluid retention
  • Cough and congestion in the lungs
  • Sweating while feeding, playing, or exercising
  • Breathing difficulty with activity, especially while feeding, walking, or climbing stairs
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Change in skin temperature and color (tendency to become cold and clammy, or sweaty, flushed, and warm)

Treatment

If heart failure is caused by a congenital (present at birth) heart defect or an acquired heart problem such as rheumatic valve disease, surgical repair of the problem may be necessary. Medications or pacemakers are often helpful in treating heart failure initially, though medications may lose their effectiveness over time and many congenital heart defects will need to be repaired surgically. Medications may also be used after surgery to help improve heart function during the healing period.

Medications and pacemakers that are commonly prescribed to treat heart failure may include:

  • Digoxin. A medication that can help the heart beat stronger with a more regular rhythm.
  • Diuretics. Helps the kidneys remove excess fluid from the body.
  • Potassium-sparing diuretics. Helps the body retain potassium, an important mineral and electrolyte that is often lost when taking diuretics.
  • ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors. Help to dilate the blood vessels, making it easier for the heart to pump blood forward into the body.
  • Beta blockers. Decrease the heart rate and blood pressure, allowing the heart to pump more efficiently.

Cardiac resynchronization therapy, or device therapy, is a newer treatment for heart failure. Device therapy uses a special type of pacemaker that paces both sides of the heart simultaneously to coordinate contractions and improve pumping ability.

Ebstein’s Anomaly

Ebstein's anomaly is a defect in which the tricuspid valve is both displaced and abnormally formed. The valve leaks and allows blood to flow back into the right atrium instead of to the lungs to pick up oxygen.

Symptoms

  • No symptoms – in some cases, no symptoms will be present until middle age
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Blue tint to the skin/lips (cyanosis)
  • Heart palpitations

Treatment

Your physician may monitor your condition or prescribe medication. Surgical options include repair of any defects, a heart transplant or ablation.

Endocarditis

An infection of the inner lining of heart chambers and valves. Bacterial endocarditis does not occur very often but can cause serious heart damage. It occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and attach inside the heart, where they multiply and cause infection. A normal heart has a smooth lining, making it difficult for bacteria to stick to it. However, if you have structural heart conditions or damage, you may have a rough area on the heart lining that makes the perfect place for bacteria to build up and multiply.

People with congenital heart disease may be at increased risk of developing an infection inside the heart. Sometimes, doctors recommend antibiotics prior to dental procedures for those at high risk for bacterial endocarditis. In general, pre-medication for some procedures is now recommended for prosthetic (artificial) heart valves, a previous history of endocarditis, some congenital heart disease and heart transplant with heart valve disease. Bacterial endocarditis is a serious infection that can cause severe damage to the inner lining of the heart and valves.

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Heart murmur
  • Unexplained weight loss

Treatment

Your physician will determine which treatment will be most effective for your specific case, and will often use diagnostic procedures such as an echocardiogram (echo), complete blood count (CBC) and blood culture. The infection can be treated in most cases with strong antibiotics given through an IV over the course of several weeks. However, heart damage may occur before the infection can be controlled. Surgery may ultimately be required to repair or replace a damaged heart valve.

Heart Murmurs

Murmurs are extra or unusual sounds made by blood circulating through the heart's chambers or valves, or through blood vessels near the heart. Heart murmurs may be heard in a normal healthy heart, or they may be caused by a number of factors or diseases, including defective heart valves, holes in the walls inside the heart (atrial septal defect or ventricular septal defect), other structural heart defects (congenital or present at birth), fever or anemia (low blood counts).

Your physician will evaluate a murmur based on several factors, such as pitch, loudness, location, and duration. They also are graded according to their intensity on a scale of 1 to 6, with 1 being very faint and 6 being very loud.

Types of murmurs include:

  • Systolic murmur. A heart murmur that occurs during a heart muscle contraction or when blood is pushed out to the body.
  • Diastolic murmur. A heart murmur that occurs during heart muscle relaxation between beats or when heart chambers are re-filling before the next contraction.
  • Continuous murmur. A heart murmur that occurs throughout the cardiac cycle, during contraction and relaxation

Heart murmurs can change and be heard or not heard at different times. Murmurs may be inconsistent and difficult to hear, meaning some murmurs may go undetected. Not all heart murmurs mean heart disease. Sometimes, a murmur may be heard in a normal child as the strong, healthy heart pumps blood into the vessels. This is known as an "innocent murmur," and usually resolves as the child grows.

Treatment

Many heart murmurs are normal, extra sounds that require no treatment and resolve over time, even if there is a hole or structural defect found in the heart, it may close as you grow. However, some defects will require surgery to correct. Others are caused by conditions not related to the heart, such as anemia. In these cases, the heart murmur will lessen or resolve as the underlying is treated.

Heart and Valve Disease

Heart and Valve Disease is a structural problem (or defect) in the heart that is usually present at birth. Defects can involve the walls of the heart, the valves of the heart, and the arteries and veins near the heart. Congenital heart defects can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart.

Advances in infant and childhood surgery, better tests, and new medicines help most children with congenital heart defects such as heart and valve disease. Many children born with more complex or severe heart defects now reach adulthood.

Symptoms and treatment vary on the particular type of disease or combination of heart and valve defects that you have.

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)

A combination of defects in which the left side of the heart does not develop properly, including mitral atresia, aortic atresia and a tiny left ventricle. Atresia is a poor formation of the valve, or no formation of the valve.

Mitral atresia occurs when a solid sheet of tissue forms instead of the mitral valve, which separates the left atrium and the left ventricle.

Aortic atresia occurs when a solid sheet of tissue forms instead of the aortic valve, which separates the left ventricle from the aorta.

Single ventricle describes a group of heart defects in which only one ventricle is present instead of two. It can be a single right or a single left ventricle. The other ventricle is usually absent or very tiny. Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is an example of a single ventricle defect.

Symptoms

  • No symptoms – diagnosis usually occurs in utero or shortly after birth

Treatment

Medications may be used until the newborn is able to have surgery. Surgery is used to repair the defect and is usually performed soon after birth.

Marfan Syndrome

Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder involving the body's connective tissue. Connective tissue has many important functions, including assisting with growth and development of the body's cells before and after birth, supporting tissues in the body, acting as an adhesive to hold certain tissues together, protecting joints and facilitating the passage of light through the eye.

A defective (FBN1) gene associated with Marfan syndrome affects the formation of a protein in connective tissue called fibrillin. This impacts many organs and structures in the body, such as your heart and major blood vessels, lungs, skeletal system, spinal cord, eyes and skin.

Marfan syndrome is caused by an abnormality (or mutation) in one specific gene (FBN1). Up to 75 percent of the time, this mutated gene is inherited from a parent who is affected. Nearly 25 percent of the time, cases are thought to be caused by new mutations in the family (not inherited from a parent).

Marfan syndrome can cause the following heart conditions:

  • Mitral valve prolapse – an abnormality of the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart that allows backward flow of blood from the left ventricle into the left atrium.
  • Arrhythmia (or dysrhythmia) – a fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat.
  • Aortic regurgitation – backwards leakage of blood from the aorta, through a weakened aortic valve, and into the left ventricle, resulting in stress in the left heart and inadequate blood flow to the body.
  • Aortic dilation and dissection – enlargement and weakening of the layers inside the aorta, which can result in tears in the aortic wall and leakage of blood into the chest or abdomen; a medical emergency.

Symptoms

A deficiency of fibrillin in connective tissue creates the abnormalities in organs and body structures that may be seen with Marfan syndrome. An extensive list of abnormalities can occur with the disorder; only symptoms listed as "major criteria" are listed below.

Symptoms may include:

  • Heart and blood vessels
    • Dilation of the aorta
    • Leakage of the aortic valve (aortic regurgitation)
    • Tears in the aorta (aortic dissection)
  • Skeletal
    • Deformities of the breastbone
    • Scoliosis, which is a sideways curvature of the spine, or kyphosis, which is a round curvature of the spine that can give the appearance of a hunchback
    • Misalignment of certain bones
    • Joint contractures
    • Unusual long arm span
    • Long fingers and toes
  • Eye
    • Dislocation of the lens (the transparent structure inside the eye that focuses light rays onto the retina)

Treatment

At the present time, there is no cure for the disorder. Treatment is based on determining which organ systems are affected and managing the problems that arise.

Recommendations for managing Marfan syndrome may include:

  • An annual echocardiogram, or echo (to monitor the heart and aorta)
  • Periodic eye exams by an ophthalmologist
  • Monitoring of the skeletal system for abnormalities (such as scoliosis) that can be noted in childhood or adolescence
  • Lifestyle adjustments (to reduce the risk of injury to the aorta, such as avoiding contact sports or stressful exercise).

Genetic counseling is important for people who have Marfan syndrome and are planning to have a family. If one parent has the disorder, there is a 50% chance, with each pregnancy, for a child to also have Marfan syndrome. In addition, women with Marfan syndrome who become pregnant have significant risks for their health during pregnancy, due to the added stress that a pregnancy puts on the heart and aorta. Women with Marfan syndrome should consult with their health care providers before pregnancy to determine if pregnancy is safe for them.

Myocarditis

Inflammation of the middle layer or the heart wall.

Symptoms

  • Chest pain
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath

Treatment

Medication and/or an implanted device are common treatments.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a persistent connection between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. This connection, the ductus arteriosus, is normally present before birth. In most babies, the vessel closes within a few hours or days after birth. In some children, the vessel fails to close, resulting in PDA.

Symptoms

  • No symptoms – in some cases, no symptoms will be present
  • Sweating while crying or eating
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fatigue

Treatment

For mild PDA, your physician may recommend no treatment and monitor your condition. Other options include medications, open heart surgery or catheter surgery to fix the defect.

Pericarditis

Pericarditis is caused by inflammation or infection of the pericardium, the thin sac (membrane) that surrounds the heart. Normally, there is a small amount of fluid between the inner and outer layers of the pericardium and the heart. Often, when the pericardium becomes inflamed, the amount of fluid between it and the heart increases. This is called a pericardial effusion. If the amount of fluid increases quickly, it can impair the ability of the heart to pump blood well. This condition is called pericardial tamponade.

In children, pericarditis is most likely to occur following surgery to repair heart defects. However, other causes may include infection of the heart muscle (viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic), chest injury or connective tissue disorders such as lupus.

Symptoms

  • Chest pain that is often described as a sharp pain in the middle or left chest
  • A low-grade fever
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fainting

Treatment

Specific treatment for pericarditis will be determined based on the underlying cause and degree of heart impairment. The goal of treatment for pericarditis is to determine and eliminate the cause of the disease.

Treatment may include:

  • Medication, such as pain medications, medications that reduce inflammation, and antibiotic drugs. Treatment also may include medications that aid in heart function if it is significantly impaired
  • Aspiration (removal) of excess fluid that has collected in the pericardial sac
  • Surgery

Pulmonary Atresia

A defect in which a solid sheet of tissue forms in place of the pulmonary valve, preventing blood in the right side of the heart from traveling normally to the lungs to pick up oxygen. Pulmonary atresia can be present with or without ventricular septal defect (VSD).

Symptoms

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blue tint to skin
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sleepiness

Treatment

Medications and/or surgery to correct any defects.

Pulmonary Stenosis

Pulmonary valve stenosis is a narrowing of the pulmonary valve. The narrowing slows the flow of blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs, causing the heart to pump harder to push blood through the smaller opening.

Symptoms

  • Heart murmur
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue

Treatment

Treatment is usually surgical to correct the defect, commonly balloon valvuloplasty or open heart surgery.

Rheumatic Heart Disease

Rheumatic heart disease is a condition of permanent damage to the heart valves caused by rheumatic fever, which is a complication of an untreated bacterial infection with Streptococcus, or "strep." Strep throat or scarlet fever may eventually progress to rheumatic fever if it is not treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms

The symptoms of rheumatic fever usually start about 1 to 5 weeks after infection with Streptococcus bacteria.

Symptoms may include:

  • Joint inflammation. This includes swelling, tenderness, and redness over multiple joints. The joints affected are usually the larger joints in the knees or ankles. Inflammation "moves" from one joint to another over several days.
  • Small nodules or hard, round bumps under the skin
  • A change in your child's muscle control and movements. This is usually noted by a change in your child's handwriting and may also include unusual, jerky movements. May also have inappropriate behaviors associated with this.
  • A pink rash with large, round, circular edges may be seen on the trunk of the body or arms and legs. The rash may come and go. It is often described as "snake-like" in appearance.
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain or heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach pains

Treatment

The best treatment for rheumatic heart disease is prevention. Antibiotics can treat strep throat and stop acute rheumatic fever from developing. Antibiotic therapy has sharply reduced the incidence and mortality rate of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. Children who have previously contracted rheumatic fever are often given continuous (daily or monthly) antibiotic treatments to prevent future attacks of rheumatic fever and lower the risk of heart damage. This may continue until the child is at least 21 years old, or into adulthood. If inflammation of the heart has developed medications may be given to reduce the inflammation. Other medications may be necessary to treat heart failure. Surgery may be required if significant heart valve damage occurs.

Tetralogy of Fallot

Occasionally, the great vessels of the heart are transposed, meaning they are switched in position. The aorta comes off the right ventricle instead of the left ventricle, and the pulmonary artery comes off the left ventricle instead of the right ventricle. Therefore, blood without oxygen is continually pumped to the body, instead of blood with oxygen.

Tetralogy of Fallot is a combination of four defects:

  • Pulmonary valve stenosis is the narrowing of the pulmonary valve. The narrowing slows the flow of blood from the right ventricle to the lungs.
  • VSD is a hole in the wall that separates the left and right ventricles.
  • Overriding aorta is a defect in which the aorta is positioned between the left and right ventricles, over the VSD.
  • Right ventricular hypertrophy is the thickening of the right ventricle. The thickening is caused by the heart having to work harder because of the other defects.

Symptoms

  • Blue tint to skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fainting
  • Clubbed fingers/toes
  • Poor weight gain
  • Heart murmur
  • Irritability

Treatment

Surgery to correct any defects.

Transposition of the Great Arteries

A rare congenital heart defect in which the two main arteries leaving the heart are reversed, changing how blood moves around the body.

Symptoms

  • Blue tint to skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lack of appetite
  • Little weight gain/growth in infants

Treatment

Medications and surgery to correct defects are both common treatments.

Truncus Arteriosus

A defect in which the aorta and pulmonary artery do not form separately. Instead, a large artery, called the truncus, comes from the heart. As the truncus leaves the heart, it may branch into arteries that carry blood to the body and to the lungs.

Symptoms

  • Blue tint to the skin (cyanosis)
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Clubbed fingers/toes

Treatment

Surgery is required to correct the defect.

Vascular Ring

A congenital defect, a vascular ring causes normal vessels to appear in an abnormal location. It can compress or block your esophagus and/or airway.

Symptoms

  • Noisy breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trouble swallowing

Treatment

Surgery is require to repair the defect.

Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)

A hole in the wall that separates the lower chambers, or ventricles, of the heart, causing blood to leak from one ventricle to the other.

Symptoms

  • No symptoms – in some cases, no symptoms will be present
  • Blue tint to skin/lips
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart murmur
  • Fatigue

Treatment

Most cases of VSD will close on their own, though some will require surgery to repair the defect.