Con­gen­i­tal heart dis­ease can be treated in child­hood

Khaleej Times - - NATION - Ash­wani Ku­mar

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.

ash­wani@khalee­j­times.com

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