Long Term Care of Cardiac Anomalies

The cardiovascular system is an essential part of the body. The heart makes up the center point, along with the blood circulatory system. Blood is consistently pumped through the heart, then delivered to all regions of the body through blood vessels and arteries. Several aspects of the body are involved in regulating the cardiovascular system, including electrolytes, the adrenal glands, hormones, and more.

Problems with the heart or any part of the cardiovascular system can lead to serious, potentially life-threatening complications. Several cardiovascular diseases have been identified. Some of these diseases can be present at birth, often caused by the presence of a defect or anomaly. 

Pediatric patients with cardiac anomalies will often require long-term care services to assist in managing complications.

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Cardiac Complications and Anomalies In Pediatric Patients

Several complications with the cardiac system have been noted among pediatric patients in the past. These anomalies often include the presence of a defect. A defect with the heart or any other part of the cardiovascular system can harm functioning.
Among pediatric patients with a defect in the structure of their heart, the anomaly will generally be congenital. This means the patient was born with a defect. In some cases, these anomalies may be called congenital heart diseases.

Some common anomalies and abnormalities with the cardiac system in pediatric patients that have been noted in the past include:

  • Aortic stenosis
  • Coarctation of the aorta
  • Ebstein Anomaly
  • Arterial Septal Defect
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Ventricular Septal Defect
  • Truncus Arteriosus
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus
  • Patent Foramen Ovale

Recent studies have shown that there has been a decline in the prevalence of heart defects among newborns in recent years. Still, a number of these anomalies continue to be noticed in hospital settings.

One study considered the current prevalence and trends of pediatric cardiac defects. The researchers report that atrioventricular septal defect is currently considered the most common form of heart defects in newborns.

Among newborns with heart defects included in the study, a total of 42% were diagnosed with an atrioventricular septal defect. The second most common heart defect identified was isolated ventricular septal defect, with a prevalence of 22% in the study subject. The atrial septal defect was also noted in 16% of pediatric patients with a cardiac anomaly.

Atrioventricular septal defect refers to the presence of holes in the heart. In particular, these holes are present between the two chambers of the heart. Additionally, in many pediatrics with this defect, problems with the formation of the heart valves are noted too. This can make it harder for blood to flow from one chamber of the heart to the other.

Pediatric patients with this anomaly may have a lack of oxygen supply throughout their bodies. There is also a risk of excessive blood flowing toward the patient’s lungs. This can lead to excessive strain placed on both the lungs and the heart. These patients are at risk of developing congestive heart failure.

Signs of Cardiac Defects and Anomalies in Pediatrics

There are several signs that parents should be aware of following the birth of a baby. Heart defects and cardiac anomalies can lead to serious, possibly even life-threatening complications. By identifying the symptoms at an early stage, treatment for the anomaly can be implemented immediately. This could potentially reduce the risk of serious complications.

Some of the common signs noted in pediatric patients with cardiac anomalies include:

  • The baby’s pulse may be weak.
  • The infant may experience breathing difficulties.
  • Their skin may have a bluish color.
  • It takes too long for the infant to gain weight.
  • Difficulties faced when feeding the infant.
  • The baby gets tired too quickly.
  • There may be swelling in the legs.
  • In some babies, abdominal swelling is noted.
  • The heart may pound harder than it should

Complications Associated with Cardiac Anomalies

Pediatric patients with a cardiac anomaly are at risk of experiencing complications. The sooner treatment is provided, the lower the risk of such complications – but the risk is not completely voided.

An arrhythmia may indicate that certain defects in the heart are developing rapidly. The heart may beat either too slow or too fast. This means blood is not pumped throughout the body in a normal or effective manner.

Congestive heart failure may be experienced as a complication too. In this case, the heart is unable to pump blood to all areas of the body. This reduces the distribution of oxygen throughout the infant’s body, leading to several potential adverse effects.

Another complication that has been noted is pulmonary hypertension. The condition causes an increase in blood pressure, specifically in the arteries located in the patient’s lungs. There is also higher blood pressure in the right region of the patient’s heart.

Current Treatment Options for Cardiac Anomalies in Pediatrics

When signs of a cardiac anomaly are identified in a baby, a diagnosis should be made as soon as possible. Treatment cannot be initiated before determining the specific anomaly the baby has. A personalized treatment program will then be initiated, according to the findings of certain tests.

An echocardiogram is a useful tool to determine if heart defects are present in a baby. Medical experts generally perform this procedure on an infant born with a condition known as Down syndrome. This is due to the high prevalence of cardiac defects among these babies.

Even among babies without Down syndrome, an echocardiogram can still be a valuable tool to help in the discovery of a cardiac defect early on.

The treatment depends on factors including the specific type of anomaly discovered in the pediatric patient, as well as how severe the problem is. In cases of atrioventricular septal defects, surgery will usually be considered as part of the treatment plan.
Surgeons will consider if there are problems with the mitral valve. This can be repaired in some cases or completely replaced sometimes. In some patients, the heart’s common valve is divided into two parts.

How Long-Term Care Can Help ?

Many pediatric patients with cardiac anomaly will require long term care. This is especially the case with patients who are Down syndrome or have other complications that may affect normal growth and development.

Some infants are provided with treatment and are allowed to leave the hospital setting once recovery is on track. This allows parents to take the infant home. At this point, continuous care is likely to be required, along with frequent check-ups with the pediatrician. The parents are responsible for following any instructions provided to them. A scheduled appointment for the baby should also not be missed. During these appointments, the care provider will look for signs that the defect is causing troublesome symptoms in the patient.

If problems are identified during the check-up, the care provider will take appropriate actions. This can help to avoid more complications happening in the future.

There are also more serious cases where the patient will require long-term in-patient care. This is a common case in kids with Down syndrome. The patient may require specialized care, which cannot always be offered to them at home. An in-patient care facility can provide continuous supervision to ensure the baby’s needs are fully met.

Many of these long-term care programs will work closely with the parents. This ensures the parents continue to be part of the baby’s life and remain active in the treatment plan.

A rehabilitation process may be implemented among older infants who undergo surgical restoration of a cardiac defect. This type of service may also require the patient to be admitted to a care facility for a while. During this time, occupational and physical therapists can provide the infant with appropriate support.

While parents may feel unsure about the use of a long-term care facility for an infant with a cardiac anomaly, it is important to consider treatment and care solutions available at these centers. The care services provided at these facilities, along with the technology and equipment, are superior to what may be available in a residential setting. Thus, care services will be more effective in such a center – particularly for children who are experiencing serious side-effects from a defect, as well as those in need of rehabilitation after invasive heart surgery.

Why Cambridge?

Cambridge Medical & Rehabilitation Center is the specialized provider for Long-term Care and rehabilitation services in the United Arab Emirates. With 2 main facilities in Abu Dhabi & Al Ain, which are designed in a hospital setup with a capacity of 90 beds each.

Cambridge provides an interdisciplinary clinical approach for Pediatric Rehabilitation. The best rehabilitation services are not only our goal but our ultimate objective is to customize the care plan for each patient and make sure that the patient’s family and their members are integrated into the treatment plan.

Either you joined Abu Dhabi hospital or Al Ain hospital for any kind of our rehabilitation services or even for long-term care you will feel as if you are at #Your Second Home.