Congenital heart defects

Nearly every hundredth baby is born in Germany with a malformation of the heart or of the vessels close to the heart - that is about 6, 000 children a year. Some of these heart defects are already detected in the womb, others only after birth. The health impairment of a congenital heart defect varies depending on the form and severity, the healing prospects are often good. Congenital heart defects are the most common congenital abnormalities at all. Boys are slightly more affected than girls.

Mistakes are often inherited

The majority of these congenital anomalies are due to errors in the genetic material. Rarely, the unborn child is harmed during pregnancy by external influences such as drugs, alcohol or maternal infections, in many cases, it is assumed that a combination of genetic and external influences.

Congenital heart defects

Congenital heart defects can affect only one or more parts of the heart (for example the heart valves, the septum) and the vessels close to the heart. Often the blood flow is impaired, in some heart defects mix the oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood. Congenital heart defects are common with other malformations, such as Down syndrome. There are a variety of mild and severe heart defects, although their incidence does not correlate with severity: there are frequent mild and severe as well as rare mild and severe heart defects.

Background of congenital vitia

In the human cardiovascular system, the small pulmonary circulation and the large circulation, which is responsible for the circulation of the entire organism, are connected in series. As an engine and link, the heart is at the center of this system. The interaction of muscle action of the four major heart cavities - the two atria and the heart chambers - and a coordinated heart valve activity allows a directed blood flow as in a mechanical circulation pump, which must maintain a water pipe system.

Normally, oxygenated blood from the limbs and organs via the veins flows to the right heart and is pumped by contracting (contracting the muscles) of the right atrium and finally the right ventricle into the pulmonary artery and thus the pulmonary circulation. There it is enriched with oxygen from the respiratory air and then flows via pulmonary veins via the left atrium into the left ventricle. There, the oxygen-rich blood is pumped into the main artery to supply the organism. The septum divides the right atrium and the right ventricle of the left atrium and the left ventricle and thus separates two systems with different pressure ratios.

Classification of heart defects

This complex system is error-prone in many places, which can lead to congenital heart defects. Depending on which structures are damaged, the effects on the cardiovascular function vary. These characteristics are also based on a common classification of congenital heart defects:

  • Congenital heart defects without short circuit between body and lung circulation and thus without mixing of oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood (ie without shunt)
  • Congenital heart disease with return of oxygen-rich blood from the left to the right heart (left-right shunt)
  • Congenital heart disease, in which oxygen-poor blood passes from the right into the left heart (right-left shunt); the lungs are poorly supplied with blood and the body is not sufficiently supplied with oxygen (cyanosis)
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