Cardiovascular conditions that affect children

There are a number of cardiovascular conditions that affect children. Theresa Roca, M.D. tells Cherish Lombard the most common are “holes in the heart,” also known as Congenital heart defects. These defects change the normal flow of blood through the heart.

The heart has two sides, separated by the septum. The septum prevents mixing of blood between the two sides of the heart. However, some babies are born with holes in the upper or lower septum.

A hole in the septum between the heart’s two upper chambers is called an atrial septal defect, and a hole in the septum between the heart’s two lower chambers is called a ventricular septal defect. Atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects allow blood to pass from the left side of the heart to the right side, allowing oxygen-rich blood to mix with oxygen-poor blood. As a result, some oxygen-rich blood is pumped to the lungs instead of the body.

Through the years the diagnosis and treatment of atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects have greatly improved. Children who have simple congenital heart defects can survive to adulthood and live normal, active lives because their heart defects close on their own or have been repaired.

Symptoms of pediatric heart defects may include:
*an increased rate of breathing or difficulty breathing
*weight loss or weight gain
*heart murmur
*poor appetite or difficulty feeding
*sweating, especially during feedings
*diminished strength of the baby’s pulse

If you notice any of these signs in your baby or child, you should call your pediatrician. If he or she suspects a congenital heart, your doctor may refer you to a pediatric cardiologist.

Theresa Roca, M.D.
Diagnostic & Medical Clinic / Infirmary Health
1700 Springhill Ave.
Mobile, AL 36604

Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm

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