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Aurora magazine

Congenital heart disease: causes and symptoms

Congenital heart disease is a malformation of the cardiovascular system. They are defined as "simple", when there is a defect in the septa or a valve malformation. Instead, there is talk of complex heart disease when there are multiple defects. Heart disease is present from birth and often the precise genetic cause is not known.

Some malformations are related to precise chromosomal alterations, but in many other cases there is no clear explanation. It is known that abnormalities develop during fetal life, affecting the correct formation of the cardiovascular system. They usually remain silent throughout gestation, manifesting only after birth. Fetal echocardiography can detect many congenital heart defects, with absolutely non-invasive tests.

Usually the analysis requires 30 minutes of time, more if you are faced with a complex form. In the latter case, more invasive forms of diagnosis may be needed, such as cardiac catheterization. In the absence of prenatal diagnosis, congenital anomalies are identified starting from small murmurs to the heart detected by the pediatrician. These can be innocent murmurs or a symptom of pathology, in which case it is worthwhile to rely on a pediatric cardiologist.

About 50% of heart disease is detected in this way, within the first month of life. This allows intervention with surgical therapy as soon as possible. Surgery in congenital heart disease has a high probability of success, with almost immediate improvements. Children can lead an almost normal life, despite having to take precautions regarding sports activities.