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Ventricular septal defect, a treatable congenital malformation

Ventricular septal defect, a treatable congenital malformation

Ventricular septal defect is one of the most common congenital heart defects. The anomaly is the lack of a portion of the septum that helps the ventricles communicate and relate. This is characterized by poor communication between the 2 ventricles of the heart. Unlike many congenital anomalies, it is treatable.

What is the cause of ventricular septal defect?

Cardiac malformations that occur at birth (congenital) are considered as the result of abnormalities from the early development of the fetus in the mother's womb, but there is no precise cause of these.

The ventricular septal defect occurs when the septum - the muscle wall that separates the heart into 2 chambers - left and right - fails to fully form the 2 ventricular chambers during fetal development in the intrauterine cavity. It leaves a space (empty) that allows the mixing of new blood (red, oxygenated) with the one that has already crossed the heart (deoxygenated). Thus, the blood fills to the lungs refusal and overloads the heart.

It is considered that genetic and environmental factors would play a role in triggering the disease.

What are the risk factors for the appearance of the malformation?

  • Down syndrome;

  • other associated congenital heart malformations;

  • congenital rubella;

  • uncontrolled diabetes (in the mother during pregnancy);

  • some medicines given during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms?

Signs or symptoms of congenital heart abnormalities often occur even in the first days, weeks or months after birth. These include:

  • a blue hue of the skin, lips and nails (cyanosis);

  • weight to feed (lack of weight accumulation);

  • accelerated breathing and constant lack of air;

  • fatigue that settles quickly;

  • swelling of the legs, soles and abdomen;

  • excessive sweating;

  • accelerated pulse (tachycardia).

The severity of the symptoms varies depending on how big the gap is that the lack of septum leaves. In rare cases, symptoms do not appear until maturity when symptoms of heart failure occur.

How is ventricular septal defect treated?

If left untreated, pulmonary hypertension and enlargement of the ventricles appear, leading to poor functionality of the 2 chambers of the heart. Ultimately, this leads to irreparable damage to the pulmonary arteries and heart failure.

Treatment depends on how large the missing portion of the septum is. If this is very small, babies do not need surgery. After birth, the doctor will carefully monitor the baby and treat the symptoms, trying to see if the defect will close by itself (spontaneously).

Children who have a severe defect need surgery to correct the malformation. It is best to have the operation done in the first year of the baby's life.

There is a drug treatment to relieve the symptoms and correct certain problems that arise in the heart:

  • vasodilators (to adjust heart rate);

  • antibiotics;

  • diuretics (to reduce the amount of fluids and volume of blood to be pumped by the heart).

What complications can occur?

If left untreated, this defect can lead to serious complications, which can be fatal:

  • frequent respiratory infections;

  • Eisenmenger syndrome;

  • heart failure;

  • stroke;

  • endocarditis (infection of the valves of the heart or the inner layer).

Tags Congenital malformations fat