Treatment of Heart Defects in Children
Specialists in Pediatric Cardiology at HMC in Israel specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of several childhood heart defects. Doctors have vast experience and are able to provide patients with treatment options that are of both conservative and surgical, in order to treat patients to effectively gain full recovery of cardiac function and maintain heart health, particularly among children and adolescents.
Heart Defects in Children
Heart defects among children are characterized by damage and malformation of the structures that make up the chambers and valves of the heart, responsible for complications and difficulties in functioning and circulation through the great vessels (aorta and pulmonary artery). Typically, anatomical defects of the heart muscle are expressed and effect individual patients at varying degrees of overloading of the heart muscle and/or reduced compensatory capacity of heart functionality. Such hemodynamic disturbances may cause symptoms to manifest to the extent of heart failure, which can be life threatening.
Heart defects are designated into two major groups:
- Congenital heart defects
- Acquired heart valve diseases
Congenital Heart Disease Causes
Congenital heart defects in children are usually formed during the development of the fetus. The observed causes of congenital heart defects among children include:
- Genetic mutations
- Teratogenic effects of substances (including drugs)
- Exposure to radiation
- Mother having suffered severe a metabolic disease
- Infectious diseases transferred during pregnancy
Fetal placental circulation allows continued growth and development of the fetus, despite potential presence of serious structural damage of the heart. Severe hemodynamic disturbances may occur immediately after birth or during a period of intensive growth.
Congenital heart defects in children are divided into two further groups based on pulmonary circulation volume:
- Cyanotic heart defect (right to left flow of blood, without crossing lungs causes low blood oxygen)
- Acyonotic heart defect (blood of the heart flows left to right)
The most commonly observed heart diseases among children are the following:
- Atrial septal defect
- Ventricular septal defect
- Open aortic flow
- Congenital stenosis, pulmonary atresia
- Combined birth defects in the presence of other complex structural abnormalities (trilogy of Fallot, tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of arteries)
Acquired Heart Disease in Children
Acquired heart valve disease in children are often a result of the onset of other diseases and develop throughout childhood. The main causes of acquired heart valve lesions among children are streptococcal infection (rheumatic), anatomic changes of the valve mechanism associated with severe hypertension, cardiomyopathy, non-rheumatic (including toxic) endocardial damages, as well as infarction, pericarditis, Kawasaki disease, and dysfunction of the cardiac conduction system. Rarer defects may be caused by trauma and/or tumors.
Among the most commonly, acquired heart diseases in children are the following:
- Stenosis and deficiencies of mitral and tricuspid valves stenosis
- Aortic deficiency
- Stenosis and deficient valves of the pulmonary artery
Symptoms of a Heart Defect
Although the etiology and pathogenesis of various heart defect symptoms are collectively associated with disease reduced and deficient circulation of blood from the heart (perfusion) and development of a type of heart failure, effecting organs and tissues and stagnation of circulation eventually leading to severe dysfunction of nearly all systems within the body involved in child development and overall health. The most common symptoms of heart defect in children are observed as follows:
- Fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath from low endurance exercise and in severe cases while at-rest, substantially limiting an active lifestyle
- Slowed physical development and malnutrition
- Changes of the color of the skin - pale or cyanosis
- Symptoms related to chronic hypoxia (oxygen deficiency of the brain) such as irritability, insomnia or excessive sleepiness, impaired memory, slowed learning ability, some mental health/psychological related disorders
- Symptoms of tissue hypoxia, such as internal organ abnormalities, structural changes in the distal phalanges (bones at the end) of the upper extremities
- Edema as a result of stagnation
- Early presentation of symptoms linked to coronary heart disease (as a result of severe hypertrophy and complications with coronary circulation)
Heart Defect Diagnosis
At HMC in Israel, doctors utilize a large variety of diagnostic tools to identify cardiovascular diseases in children. If screening clinicians identify the presence of heart disease, a plan is determined on an individual basis to screen patients further, in order to attain a precise and accurate understanding of the extent of functional capacity and limitations associated with the defect.
The main methods used to identify heart defects in children are the following:
- Echocardiography (ultrasound) at rest and observed under stress
- Electrocardiography and long (including remote) monitoring heart rate
- Tomographic screening of the heart - Cardiac CT or MR
- Isotope scan of the heart
Heart Defects Treatment at HMC
Accurate and precise diagnosis help pediatric cardiologists at Herzliya Medical Center in Israel develop the most effective treatment for children living with congenital and acquired heart disease. The main methods of treatment are as follows:
- Conservative treatment – In order to compensate for symptoms of heart failure and stabilize the general condition of the patient, medications are used as a necessary, yet temporary regimen, often used in preparation to restore anatomic structure by surgical intervention.
- Open-heart surgery - surgical procedures carried out by experts with highly trained expertise, experience and technical ability to safely transfer the patient’s extracoronary blood flow. Specialists at HMC in Israel have successfully carried out open-heart procedures of various complexity.
Medical intervention involving procedures that are minimally invasive effectively resolve congenital and acquired heart defects by utilizing catheterization in addition to innovative methods using endoscopic surgery to also allow effective and safe procedures performed on the naturally functioning heart.
Cardiologists at Herzliya Medical Center help patients reach full understanding of their diagnosis and individual treatment plan, involving the nature and aspects of upcoming procedures. Doctors and medical professionals guide patients and their families throughout all stages of diagnosis and treatment.