February is officially here, and everyone is ready to celebrate love. However, this month is not just about going out with your loved ones and surprising them with gifts; it also happens to be an opportunity to shed light on congenital heart defects. It is a heart condition present at birth and is a significant cause of infant death in the United States. Since heart health can make or break a person’s life and impact their ability to interact with the world, it becomes critical for increasing awareness about the condition and generating funds for life-saving research. This is where awareness week comes into the picture.
Observed every year from February 7th to 14th, Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week is an important event in this day and age. It is a global initiative to recognize and celebrate CHD warriors and spread awareness about Congenital Heart Defects. This is to make people learn how they can help themselves and others in enjoying a healthy heart.
To help you expand your knowledge, we have curated this article. It is going to guide you about the disease and everything that you need to know about Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. So, scroll down, read on, and join the battle against this heart condition. It’s time to create a better future.
Understanding Congenital Heart Defects
What is Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)?
The term "congenital" refers to anything that exists at birth. Similarly, Congenital Heart Defect is a heart disease present at birth and damages the structure and function of a baby's heart. This type of cardiac problem is said to be a silent killer that impacts how blood flows through the heart and out to the rest of the body. It occurs when blood arteries around the heart do not develop before birth. This condition is of different types and might vary from mild, i.e., a tiny hole in the heart, to a severe one, i.e., a poorly formed part of the heart. Some of these complexities might be life-threatening, while others remain silent and undetected for years.
It is one of the most common types of defect that impacts the lives of 1 out of every 110 babies born. And in 1 out of every 4 CHD cases, the condition becomes critical and life-threatening, which requires surgery during the first year of life.
Different Types Of Congenital Heart Defects (CHD)
Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) are of multiple types, some of which can aid through medication while others need a full-fledged treatment. Here are some of the most common kinds of defects:
- Atrial Septal Defect
- Atrioventricular Septal Defect
- Coarctation of the Aorta
- Double-outlet Right Ventricle
- d-Transposition of the Great Arteries
- Ebstein Anomaly
- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
- Interrupted Aortic Arch
- Pulmonary Atresia
- Single Ventricle
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return
- Tricuspid Atresia
- Truncus Arteriosus
- Ventricular Septal Defect
Causes Behind Congenital Heart Defect (CHD)
Among the total number of Americans born, over 1.3 million suffer from some form of CHD. Every year over 40,000 children are born with a heart defect which makes it important to learn about the causes of defects on the occasion of Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week.
While all the causes are still unknown, scientists and physicians are making continuous progress in learning about the reasons. It is presumed that it is a genetic syndrome. It might be caused because of the combination of genes and some other factors. These might include environmental exposure, mother’s medications during pregnancy, or mother’s diet. Other than this, a mother's exposure to some substances like drugs or infection, while she is pregnant, might also cause CHD.
Signs and Symptoms
A congenital heart defect (CHD) is frequently detected in childhood or even before the birth of the child. However, it is difficult to identify the symptoms until adulthood in some cases. It is essential to know that this health concern doesn’t have any prominent presentation of symptoms. However, there are some signs that you might look out for. Such signs include:
- Blue-tinted lips or nails
- Difficulty in breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Trouble in gaining weight
- A heart murmur
- Poor or difficulty in feeding
- Sleepiness all day
- Swelling in legs, around eyes, or abdomen
Congenital Heart Defect Diagnosis
CHD is often detected at the time of birth or during pregnancy. It is often diagnosed by ultrasound called a fetal echocardiogram which helps produce the images of developing babies' hearts. However, in a majority of cases, it is detected after a few months of birth.
In case a child gets diagnosed with CHD, then they are required to be taken for regular follow-up with a cardiologist. The doctor will perform a range of physical exams and look after your medical history. Blood tests, MRIs, angiography, stress testing, CT scanning, and Holter recording will also be carried out to learn about the actual condition.
It is important to note that not everyone requires Congenital Heart Defect treatment. Some patients require just a few visits to a cardiologist, while others are needed to stay under observation. There are different treatment options for different forms of CHD, and they also vary as per the severity. However, here are some of the common treatments that doctors suggest for curing CHD.
- Cardiac catheterizations
- Transplantation of the heart
Other than these treatment options, doctors also suggest tube feeding, medications, physical activities, healthy diet, maintaining weight, dental care, regular follow-ups, and more.
How To Contribute To Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week?
- Put On Red Color: Red is powerful and represents various heart-related diseases. It is a color that represents Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, and hence, everyone is recommended to wear this color to show their support. You must also be a part of the National Wear Red Day celebration, which calls people to wear red and show their support to patients suffering from heart diseases.
- Host A Fundraiser: Hosting a fundraiser is a way you can contribute to the Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. The money you raise can be used for expanding research, providing help to people who can’t afford the treatment, and more. It basically helps conquer the disease. So, even if it is a little, you must contribute.
- Spread Awareness: Raising awareness is crucial on many levels. It helps the public to get familiar with CHD and possibly save the lives of their loved ones. You may use social media platforms to spread the word. It is the most powerful tool for making a large impact. You can post pictures, posters, use hashtags, and even share important facts.
- Book A Doctor’s Appointment: Visiting a doctor, getting yourself checked, and talking about heart health is one of the best ways of observing the Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. Even if you think you are fit, you must book checkups regularly and partner with the team to improve your heart health.
- Change Lifestyle: This Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, commit to a healthy lifestyle to enjoy good heart health. You can start by adding exercise to your daily regime, eating healthy and fresh food, and quitting smoking. Trust us; even small changes can lead to a lifetime of heart health.
- Share Stories: Sharing inspiring stories of survivors is a great way to motivate others who are not capable of dealing with this heart defect. These stories will provide them with a ray of hope and will guide them through the treatment.
While CHD is a deadly disease, there’s always hope. And this awareness is that hope. This week gives us a glimpse into the lives of those who live and fight with this defect. It also provides an excellent opportunity to spread the word and make more and more people aware of the issue. As Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week kicks off, take this time to bring awareness to combat the disease and save lives. This awareness week, take a pledge to spread the right information and resources around you. Choose to stand up and fight against this deadly disease. Also, pin this article and share it with your friends, family, and anyone who you think will benefit from it.
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