Monday, 24 June 2013

What is Congenital Heart Disease?

CHD is not to be confused with the more common heart diseases, which are lifestyle, environmental or inherited forms, which are not present at birth but present themselves later in life for whatever reason. Most commonly due to risk factors such at being overweight, smoking, or simply having it in your genes. Congenital means that the disease is present at birth. In short CHD is a birth defect. The heart is not properly formed during development in the womb. Pregnant women can put their baby at risk from heart disease or other birth defects by drinking alcohol, smoking and other things you're not supposed to do when you're pregnant. However mostly it's just a combination of bad luck and the way the baby develops in the womb.

I can't explain every kind of CHD to you because every case is unique and I don't know much about other forms of CHD aside from the ones that I have myself. So I'm going to explain my disease to you and I might give some information about other diseases on the way. 

The main problem with my heart is that I suffer from Left Atrial Isomerism, which affects my abdominal organs too. It basically means I have two left sides of everything. So instead of having a right and a left side, the right side is simply a mirror image of the left, so everything is symmetrical, which in terms of the heart isn't very good as the heart isn't supposed to be symmetrical. I can't really draw you a diagram as I have no idea what my heart actually looks like. I don't know if the arteries and vessels that lead to the right side are there at all or where they feed into the heart. I know my vena cava goes the opposite why it should, which quite a big 20% of the population have, but as for the other arteries, I have no idea. I'm I a bit of a strange case. I don't think many of my doctors know where everything is. A map of my body was drawn by a doctor when I was three, but whether that's still knocking around my hospital, I don't know. It's not something google images will have the answer for. So you'll just have to imagine my strange looking heart. Perhaps I'll get a surgeon to draw it for me one day. 

The next problem is that I have two holes in my heart. I have a Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) and a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). An ASD is a hole in the top half of the heart in the atriums (hence the name atrial) and a VSD is a hole in the bottom half of the heart in the Ventricles (hence the name ventricular). When you have both it is called an AVSD, an Atrial Ventricular Septal Defect. 

I am also missing heart valves, I'm not sure if it's just one or all of them. Heart valves let the right amount of blood into the heart chambers, so not having one, and having holes in your heart as well means that the oxygenated blood and the deoxygenated blood is being mixed. 

I had open heart surgery at the age of two in which they put a patch over one of the holes. Then I had another when I was eight in which they created a sort of heart valve from some of my own heart tissue. You can get mechanical ones put in but for some reason they didn't do that. It doesn't really work that effectively but it's better than nothing. 

I don't know everything about my heart. It was all told to my parents when I was two so I was only told what my parents could remember a few years later, and as you've probably gathered, it's quite complicated and difficult to understand. So I haven't quite grasped everything. I've never had a doctor explain it to me properly and show me all the diagrams. 

I hope this was useful to know a bit more about my heart disease. I've got a long list of blog posts I want to get done so stay tuned for lots more posts! 

Thanks for reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Template by