Tiny hearts should run healthy towards the future…

Tiny hearts should run healthy towards the future…

Children as our future are more important than anything else. Our biggest dream is to watch them grow into healthy, happy and successful individuals. However, some children begin their lives with more challenges than their peers.


We spoke to vascular surgery specialist about increasingly seen congenital heart disease cases in our country.


Why was my child born with a heart disease?

First of all you should know that there are many parents all around the world that have a baby with congenital heart disease just like yours. Like you, they also receiving aid from professional health organizations for their baby’s health. Even though causes of the most congenital heart disease cases are still unknown, evidence shows that some factors might be causing the said diseases. Some of causes are; parents or a close family member having a congenital heart disease, consanguineous marriage, senseless drug usage especially during early stages of the pregnancy and infections (German measles), being exposed to radiation or x-ray during pregnancy, mother being a diabetic and alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Apart from these, heart diseases caused by genetic anomalies like down and turner syndromes are more common.


What is the most common congenital heart disease?
Ventricular septal defect (VSD) is the most common one and it covers %15-20 of the congenital heart diseases. Suspicion of VSD is raised by a wheeze during the physical examination. Parents usually have two complaints about their children; frequent lung infection and inability to gain weight. With the help of echocardiography, diagnosis is certain. Angiography is also done if necessary. If it is not very small, VSD can be treated surgically and it is usually treated before the age of 1.  VSD is closed. Surgical risk is less than %3. The risk is higher in cases where multiple VSDs and serious lung problems caused by a late recourse are in question.


What are the congenital heart diseases called “blue baby” and “purple baby”?
It is caused when arterial blood is mixed with venous blood. Many congenital heart diseases are colloquially known as “blue baby” and “purple baby”. The most common cyanotic congenital heart disease also known as purple birth and blue baby is the fallot tetralogy (TOF). It is seen in 3 out of 10 thousand births. It constitutes %6 of every congenital heart diseases. It is more frequently seen in some babies with genetic and chromosome anomalies (DiGeorge and Down syndrome). Suspicion is raised by cyanosis after birth or wheeze. With echocardiography, diagnosis is certain. The treatment of fallot tetralogy is surgical. Before the age of 1, total correction operation can be done. The timing of the operation depends on the cyanosis level and seizures. If the case allows, babies that require early level operation can be treated for total correction in major and experienced centers without a shunt operation. The risk of a fallot tetralogy operation is less than %5.


Is early diagnosis important for the babies who require congenital heart disease operation?
Early diagnosis and convenience is very important for congenital heart diseases. While one disease group might need an operation during neonatal period, the timing for other groups varies. If a child is diagnosed with congenital heart disease, he/she must be monitored by a pediatric cardiologist. If an operation is necessary, the pediatric cardiologist and the pediatric heart surgeon should decide the timing together. Unfortunately, in our country, many patients that need a simple operation like a hole (ventricular septal defect) or festering connection between two veins (Patent Duktu Sarteriosus) lose their chance for an operation because of late recourse. They die in early ages.


What is the importance multidisciplinary approach for surgical treatment of congenital heart diseases?
As a matter of fact, there are some diseases and patients that require multiple treatments. In such situations, the most logical thing to do is to act according to the decision made by the pediatric cardiologists and surgeons’ council.


Does heart surgery negatively affect a child’s brain development and learning capabilities?
In recent years, improvement in surgery, anesthesia, technologies and intensive care units along with a decreased ratio in deaths reduced the neurological negative effect possibilities to a minimum. Along the developments in pediatric cardiac surgery, the method of reducing the body temperature to 18-20 degrees, stopping the whole body circulatory system and revising in and out of the heart during long and difficult surgeries, has been used for many years. Although a good deal of successful operations has been performed, it is confirmed that in the long run these children have difficulties both in the means of learning and neurologically compared to their peers. Nowadays, this technique is replaced by operations which are carried out without stopping the brain circulatory system.