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Dont lose heart if your child has a hole in his heart

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PostSubject: Dont lose heart if your child has a hole in his heart   Thu Dec 27, 2007 6:17 pm



Monday , December 24 , 2007


Don’t lose heart if your child has a hole in his heart

The parents of two-year-old Asha (name changed) were worried as their only child was having difficulty in breathing coupled with palpitations of the heart. As her condition worsened over a few weeks, they took her to a child specialist who diagnosed her problem as atrial septal defect — also known as a “hole in the heart” —a type of congenital heart disease, present since birth.

The doctor suggested surgery. Though the parents were hesitant at first, they decided to go for it. That was three months ago. Today, Asha is a healthy baby with no signs of her earlier problems.

Bikash Das (name changed) now in his twenties, has learnt that he will have to live his life on medication as his atrial septal defect has reached an inoperable stage. His parents had ignored doctors’ advice for surgery “mainly out of fear” when he was just four.

Guwahati, Dec. 23: The two cases represent two spectrums of child healthcare. Once thought to be a very complex problem, doctors now say that congenital heart diseases can be cured if acted upon on time.

The advice from doctors: Don’t lose heart if your child is suffering from a congenital heart disease.

After conducting the first-ever paediatric cardiac care camp in Guwahati on Friday and Saturday afternoon, paediatric cardiologist from New Delhi, Viresh Mahajan, said incidence of congenital heart disease is significantly high all over the world and the Northeast is no exception.

“The incidence of congenital heart disease is eight to nine per 1,000 births and the scenario is no different here. This is a significant number, which has made such camps more relevant,” Mahajan said.

Mahajan, who is a senior paediatric cardiologist at Max Devki Devi Heart and Vascular Institute at New Delhi, screened more than 60 young patients at the camp held at Excel Centre, a multi-speciality clinic, located at Borthakur Mill Road at Ulubari in Guwahati.

Mahajan said most of the patients were newborns to 8-year-olds. He said atrial septal defect is a congenital heart disease, present at birth. A baby’s heart normally has a hole in the wall (septum) between the left and right atria before the baby is born. Usually, this hole closes soon after birth. If it does not close completely, blood leaks from the heart’s left side back to the right side. In time the right atrium can grow larger than the left because of pressure differences.

Many children with atrial septal defect have no symptoms. But as a child grows to adulthood, this defect can cause difficulty in breathing with a “flopping” in the chest.

He said they would conduct such camps on a regular basis every two months to screen new cases as well as to follow up old ones.

“There are only 30 to 50 paediatric cardiologist in the country which is very low considering the enormous number of patients. As far as I know there are no paediatric cardiologist in Assam,” Mahajan added.

Prakritish Bora, senior consultant of paediatrics and neonatology at Excel Centre, said the camp was the first step toward setting up a full-fledged paediatric cardiac care facility in the city.

Bora said 30 to 50 children who had severe cardiac problems were successfully operated within a year at Max Devki Devi Heart and Vascular Institute only. This itself speak the need for such facilities in the region.

He said the objective of organising the camp was not only detection but also to improve public awareness about cardiac problems in children.

“Our aim was to advice the parents about the treatment available for congenital heart disease, including the most severe problems,” Bora said.

According to him, one of the problems is that many parents are advised by quacks and they show reluctant to go for surgery. This aggravates the problem and finally becomes inoperable.

Bora said some of common symptoms of congenital heart disease in children are breathlessness, lack of weight gain, excessive sweating and blueness because of blood deficiency.
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