Congenital Heart Disease (Patent Ductus Arteriosus)

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Congenital Heart Disease or Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) is a congenital heart defect that occurs in premature babies. The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that connects the aorta (blood vessels that carry oxygen-carrying blood from the heart throughout the body) and the pulmonary arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygen-less blood from the heart to the lungs). The opening closes automatically every 2-3 days.

In patients with Patent Ductus Arteriosus, the valve between the two main blood vessels leading from the heart does not close completely. If the ductus arteriosus is left untreated, oxygen-deficient blood can flow in the wrong direction and reduce the functionality of the heart muscle, and can lead to heart failure and other complications.

Causes of Patent Ductus Arteriosus

The exact cause of Patent Ductus Arteriosus is unknown. However, there are several risk factors that can trigger Patent Ductus Arteriosus:

Gender

Patent Ductus Arteriosus is twice as common in girls than in boys.  

Rubella Virus

The rubella virus attacks the fetal respiratory system, enters the blood vessels and damages the fetal heart.

High Altitude

Patent ductus is at higher risk for babies who are born above 3000 meters altitude.

Medical History

Babies who are born in a family with a history of heart defects or hereditary conditions such as Down syndrome are at higher risk of developing Patent Ductus Arteriosus.

Premature Birth

More than 50% of cases of Patent Ductus Arteriosus occur in babies born less than 26 weeks, or babies that weigh less than 0.5 kg. Meanwhile, 15% of cases of Patent Ductus Arteriosus occur in babies born at week 30.

When to See a Doctor for Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of Patent Ductus Arteriosus can be made through detailed interviews related to the mother’s medical history during pregnancy and family health history related to hereditary diseases. Physical and additional tests are required to establish a diagnosis of Patent Ductus Arteriosus.

The doctor will listen to the baby’s heartbeat through a stethoscope. In patients with Patent Ductus Arteriosus, a heartbeat will be heard along with heart murmurs or abnormal heart sounds.

Additional tests to diagnose patients with Patent Ductus Arteriosus include:

Electrocardiography (EKG)

EKG is a test done to determine the flow of electricity in the heart and detect abnormalities in heart rhythm and structure.

Echocardiography

Echocardiography is a test done using sound waves (ultrasound) to detect abnormalities in the valves and heart muscle.

Chest X-ray

This examination can help doctors see an overview of the patient’s lung and heart condition.

Symptoms of Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Symptoms of Patent Ductus Arteriosus depend on the size of the opened valve. In a patient with a small opening patent ductus, there are no significant symptoms. However, a large opening in patent ductus can cause mild symptoms or even cause complications. For example, heart failure shortly after the baby is born.

The following are symptoms of Patent Ductus Arteriosus:

  • Out of breath
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiring easily
  • Sweating while eating or crying
  • Loss of appetite
  • Growth disorders

Treatment for Patent Ductus Arteriosus

In general, small Patent Ductus Arteriosus does not require treatment as the valve gradually grows and closes by itself.

In larger patent ductus arteriosus, the doctor will prescribe medications, perform additional valve procedures through cardiac catheterization, and perform surgery. Cardiac catheterization in infants is done by inserting a catheter tube through a blood vessel in the arm / thigh to the heart.

In premature newborns with Patent Ductus Arteriosus, medications will be given to stimulate muscle constriction and close the ductus opening. However, this treatment is only effective for newborns.

Experts suggest that the surgery should be done after the baby turns 6 months old. However, in severe conditions, babies under 6 months can also undergo surgical procedures.

Treatment Cost for Patent Ductus Arteriosus 

The treatment cost for heart diseases is often determined after the doctor understands the patient’s condition. Smarter Health can help you find specialist doctors and hospitals within your treatment budget.

Prevention of Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Preventive measures that can be undertaken include: 

Maintain health during pregnancy

This is very important to maintain the health of the fetus. Avoid taking medications that are not recommended by a doctor. Avoid radiation exposure during pregnancy.

Get complete vaccinations 

Prevention can be done by undergoing TORCH screening (Toxoplasma, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus and Herpes) before planning for a pregnancy. This screening serves to reduce the risk of getting a viral infection.

Check family’s medical history 

Pregnant women need to pay attention to their sugar consumption to control their sugar levels during pregnancy. In addition, mothers over the age of 40 are at greater risk of giving birth to children with congenital heart defects. Another factor to consider is a family history of diseases such as diabetes, genetic disorders, Down syndrome, and heart disease.

Get fetomaternal screening

Undergoing fetomaternal ultrasound functions to identify heart abnormalities in the fetus through ultrasound.

Home Care for Patients Diagnosed with Patent Ductus  Arteriosus 

A healthy lifestyle can help patients with heart diseases to get adequate nutrition. It is important for the family to protect the patient from exposure to polluted air, as this will interfere with breathing patterns.

Patients with heart defects easily feel tired and short of breath. Therefore, you need to maintain and monitor the activities of the patient. Furthermore, avoid strenuous activities that can trigger shortness of breath.

Taking medicines regularly as prescribed can also reduce the risk of developing severe symptoms in patients with Patent Ductus Arteriosus.

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