Many factors have been found to operate to cause a child to be born with a defective heart.
Medical science has come a long way in its fight against heart disease and defects generally, but a long road lies ahead, a road which will cost a good deal of time and money to travel.
Diseases of the heart itself which is built as two pumps, side by side, may be congenital or acquired.
What is congenital heart disease?
Congenital means that the abnormality is present at birth.
The most dramatic is perhaps the blue baby disease, where there is a narrowing of a valve in the heart together with an abnormal communication, a “hole” between the two pumping chambers.
Acquired heart disease is that type which has its onset after birth.
Rheumatic fever in babies
The most common condition in children is rheumatic fever, which causes inflammation of the heart, and the healing of this inflammation may distort the heart valves, making the “heart-pump” less efficient.
Often the bad effects of rheumatic fever are delayed until later in life, so that a young woman for example, may develop failure of the heart during pregnancy.
Nowadays, as a result of research, we know more of what can be done to prevent second attacks of rheumatic fever.
However, why some children develop this disease, and the majority of those infected by the same germ escape, we do not as yet know.
Hypertension in newborn babies
High blood pressure, “hypertension” is a relatively common disease of the heart and blood vessel system. It is associated with excess strain upon the heart, which ultimately may result in its failure.
Many cases of high blood pressure have no obvious cause, and although we know a good deal about the treatment of this condition, we still know little of its background.
As it is a common disease, much research is needed into this entity.
Strokes are also prevalent in people with disease of the blood-vessels. This means that the blood supply to the brain is cut off, so that an arm or a leg, or both, no longer function effectively.
Stoppage of the blood supply to a part of the heart causes a coronary thrombosis, or heart attack.
Again this may be associated with high blood pressure, though commonly enough it is associated only with a disease of the blood vessels called atherosclerosis.
Here again, much knowledge has been accumulated concerning the treatment or the acute attack, but fundamental knowledge necessary to prevent these heart attacks is lacking.
The need for continuing research work on all types or cardiovascular disease is urgent.
It will range from the most complex biochemical and mathematical concepts, to finding out from victims of these diseases what their difficulties are, and how they can best be restored to fully functional life.
Many congenital defects can be corrected by heart surgery .