There are many types of cardiac and heart problems that may arise if a child is born early. Some may be less complicated like controlling an irregular blood pressure or a small hole within the heart that will close over time. Other are much more serious and need attentions from specialized doctors. Many cardiac and heart problems start when the heart is developing within the womb. These are considered congenital heart defects. They develop within the chambers, valves, and vessels within the heart. In this post I will be talking about the most common heart defects and complications that occur within Pre-Mature children.
One of the most common congenital heart defects is a hole in the heart. A hole in the heart is caused by a weak or under developed septum (muscular wall) within the heart. There are several different classifications for a hole in the heart depending on size, location, and other factors. Having a hole in the heart allows for oxygenated blood to mix with non-oxygenated blood or vise versa while traveling through the heart. Many times a small hole can heal on its own with monitoring by medical personnel. Other times a hole in the heart needs more serious and extensive care, such a surgery to patch the hole.
A ventricular septal defect is when there is a hole between the left and right ventricle. This allows for oxygenated blood to mix or leak into the right ventricle, this causes the blood to improperly move to the right ventricle instead of the aorta. This causes an improper flow throughout the body without a strong source of oxygen. A ventricular septal defect can lead to high blood pressure, endocarditis (infection of the heart), arrhythmias (irregular heart beat), delayed growth, and even heart failure. If it just a small hole between the two ventricles there may be no symptoms and will heal on its own.
An atrial septal defect is when the muscular wall (septum) separating the two atriums of the heart has a hole or does not properly closes. Depending on the degree of the hole, minor or major, action for treatment changes. A minor hole may cause little to no symptoms and rarely needs medical treatment. On the other hand, a major hole may have many symptoms and require cardiac catheterization or surgery. If I haven’t stressed this enough in my last few post I will say it again, each case is special and unique and no two cases are exactly the same.
These are just a few complications that may happen to a premature baby. I could spend almost a whole extra semester just looking at the different kinds of heart defects that occur in premature babies.