Paediatric Cardiology is in charge of cardiology diseases (whether congenital or not) in children up to 14 years of age. Pathologies can be detected early during pregnancy and intrauterine treatments can be applied, or after delivery.
Although it is possible for a child to develop a heart disease for any reason, most infant heart issues are commonly congenital. Some of the most common congenital pathologies are:
Atrioventricular septal defect
There is a defect in the septum separating the upper part of the heart (atria) from the lower part (ventricles) or the valves that connect them.
If there is a whole in the septum, this is called complete atrioventricular septal defect, a serious problem that will require open-heart surgery.
There can be malformations between the mitral and tricuspid valves that create a partial atrioventricular septal defect.
Atrial septal defect
In this case de defective septum separates the left and right atria, the septum has a hole. This makes the oxygenated blood from the left atrium mix with the blood in the right atrium, causing greater pressure in the right atrium that will enlarge the cavity and, over time, can cause heart failure.
Ventricular septal defect
The last case of abnormal holes between the different heart "chambers" is when there is a defect in the septum that separates both ventricles.
When this happens, and depending on the size of the "hole", respiratory distress, tachycardia and other symptoms can appear.
The aorta narrows in the area where it branches out, causing insufficient blood flow to the lower part of the body.
Blood reaches the lungs from the right ventricle through the pulmonary artery and the pulmonary valve, which prevents blood from returning to the heart between heartbeats.
The pulmonary valve normally comprises three parts (tricuspid), but sometimes it only has two or even one part (bicuspid or unicuspid), sometimes two sections are fused together or may be too thick. In any of these cases, the space becomes narrower which means that the right ventricle has to work more intensely to make blood flow through the narrow pulmonary valve.
The aortic valve has a defect, it is narrower than normal and the heart struggles to pump blood from the left ventricle.
Abnormal Pulmonary Venous Drainage
The veins leaving the lungs that carry "red" blood (with oxygen) to the heart, instead of arriving directly to the left atrium, they are abnormally connected to other veins and this blood reaches the right atrium.
There will be significant respiratory distress, depending on how the pulmonary vein deviation occurred.
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
The left side of the heart has not developed properly and is smaller. The left side of the heart is therefore not able to pump enough blood to the body, overloading the right side with the task and causing heart failure.
Other common congenital pathologies
- Persistent Ductus Arteriosus
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Transposition of major arteries