Congenital heart disease can be treated in childhood
abu dhabi — Heart diseases continue to be the top killer in the UAE and congenital heart disease is one of the major threats.
According to 2014 statistics by the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, more than 500 babies are born with congenital heart disease in the country every year, with nearly 70 per cent of them requiring cardiac surgery, and more than half of those within the first six months of life.
Dr Gerard Martin, paediatric cardiology consultant at Washington DC-based Children’s National Medical Centre (CNMC), said congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect and it occurred in approximately one out of every 100 live births.
On the causes, he noted: “The cause of congenital heart disease is not completely understood. We know that up to 15 to 20 per cent of congenital heart disease can be explained by genetic conditions. Approximately 1 to 3 per cent is due to environmental factors. The remainder is thought to be multifactorial — a combination of genetic predisposition with an environmental trigger. Congenital heart disease can be treated in childhood. There are both catheter-based interventions and surgical interventions that can correct the structural defect of the heart. Some conditions are very mild and do not require intervention or resolved spontaneously.”
Will a child live a normal life after undergoing heart surgery?
“After corrective interventions, a child can lead a normal life. Some children may have restrictions on their ability to participate in competitive athletics. For simple defects, the life expectancy is not different than the normal population. For moderate and complex defects,
The cause of congenital heart disease is not completely understood. We know that up to 15 to 20 per cent of congenital heart disease can be explained by genetic conditions.” Dr Gerard Martin, paediatric cardiology consultant
life expectancy is shortened in comparison with the normal population,” said Dr Martin.
He is in Abu Dhabi as part of the visiting physician programme with Healthpoint — the multi-specialty hospital in Abu Dhabi as part of the Mubadala’s healthcare network.
“Children’s National Medical Centre is bringing to Healthpoint the outpatient evaluation of children with known or suspected congenital heart disease. Through a visiting doctor programme, Healthpoint will be able to offer paediatric cardiology consultations including a history, physical examination, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, Holter monitoring and advanced imaging such as CT angiograms of the heart. In the future, we hope to offer Children’s National interventional and surgical faculty performing procedures in the country.”
He noted that screening for critical congenital heart disease is already performed in the UAE.
“CNMC collaborated with the Health Authority Abu Dhabi in initiating this programme so that all babies have pulse oximetry performed at around 24 hours of life prior to leaving their birth hospital. I think improved foetal echocardiography screening maybe an additional benefit for expectant mothers,” Martin added.
The visiting physicians programme at Healthpoint runs till October 23. Paediatric sub-specialists in the field of paediatric cardiology, genetics, pulmonology, gastroenterology and neurology will be visiting to exchange knowledge and best practice, conduct joint consultations, and further elevate the standard of paediatric care in the UAE.
Healthpoint medical director Dr Nader Darwich said the hospital shares a great relationship with CNMC. “We work together to bring international benchmarking in paediatric healthcare to the UAE. This programme will offer our community the best standard of paediatric care, right here in UAE,” he added.