Fast Facts about Congenital heart Disease
Congenital heart diseases are conditions that are present from birth, due to abnormalities of the heart's structure and function.
Congenital heart defects are the most common form of birth defect in newborns - approximately eight to ten out of every 1,000 babies born have some type of congenital heart defect. According to the American Heart Association, congenital heart defects account for more deaths in the first year of life than any other type of birth defects.
Some of these heart defects heal over time; others require treatment with medication or surgery.
The cause remains elusive for most cases of congenital heart disease. Hereditary factors appear to play some role in the disease, as do the intake of alcohol, street drugs and some medications. For these reasons, pregnant women should avoid drugs and alcohol and to advise their doctors of their status before they are prescribed any medications. Additionally, if the mother-to-be has not acquired immunity to rubella (German measles), she should avoid any possible exposure to this disease and be vaccinated against it after delivery.
One of the key factors in treating congenital heart disease is to diagnose it before birth. This allows doctors to anticipate problems during delivery and further ensures that the appropriate medical specialists are available to intervene as required.
Adults with congenital heart disease require continued monitoring and sophisticated medical follow-up. This often includes complex and multi-disciplinary care, which is only available in a few centres in North America.
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