Narayana Health City in Bengaluru – one of India’s most preferred centre for referral and treatment of children born with congenital heart defects today launched a nation-wide awareness campaign to observe ‘Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week’. This is aimed at not only creating awareness among the general populace but also among the referring physicians.
Most of the congenital heart defects can be detected within 6 months after birth. Usually there is a collaboration of symptoms for children with heart disease such as the child is not feeding well, has frequent breathlessness on little exertion or has a trace of blue skin (called as blue baby syndrome) and not gaining weight . A combination of such symptoms shows up from birth up to the age of 6 months when most of the congenital heart defects can be detected. The Paediatric Cardiac team at Narayana Health City feels that detection rate in Karnataka is very good as awareness is more and there are better facilities to treat such cases, whereas people coming from other parts of the country tend to come a bit late – the reason being lack of awareness and not many paediatric surgical centres of this magnitude such as Narayana Institute of Cardiac Sciences. They felt awareness is required to increase among the referral doctors as well.
“It is the need of the hour to create awareness on early detection for congenital heart defects, which can save many children and help them grow as normal individuals”, said Dr. Devi Shetty, Sr. Cardiac Surgeon and Chairman of Narayana Health. “One out of 140 children born anywhere in the world has a heart problem, it is one of the commonest congenital diseases. The good news is that most of them can be cured by cardiac surgery. However our biggest problem is the delayed presentation. When a child with a hole in the heart doesn’t get operated at the appropriate time, lungs get damaged along with heart. In the process, the risk of surgery increases as well as the long term results gets poor. The best gift you can give to a child with the heart disease is early detection and early treatment”
Around 8 to 10 children per 1000 are born with congenital heart disease in India. The incidence comes to around 1 to 2% of children born with congenital heart disease in our country. “If parent or a sibling has a congenital heart disease, then your risk increases marginally by 2 to 4 percent”, informed Dr. Sreesha Maiya, Sr. Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist at Narayana Health City. “It definitely has some sort of relation to consanguineous marriage or marriage within relations. Taking certain type of drugs in the first trimester or even alcohol could cause some birth defects, and congenital heart problem could be one of them”, he said. “Whenever drugs are prescribed to a pregnant lady, we see the level of evidence that it can cause harm to the foetus and accordingly prescribe only the safe drugs if it is necessary”, he added.
Around 70% of cases are treated with open heart surgery and the remaining through cardiac catheter intervention. The most common problem in congenital heart defect is the ‘hole in the heart’, confirmed Dr. Maiya. The treatment is covered by various government health schemes for people from economically backward sections. Children born with congenital heart disease will suffer all through life if not detected and corrected early. If the treatment is on time, these children could be playing just like any other normal child. The trend all over the world has always been the same and doesn’t show any increase or decrease in the number of children born with congenital heart defects.
On this occasion, a large number of children came together to mark the occasion of Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Day at Narayana Health City along with their parents and celebrated the day with entertainment and games. Doctors who treated them also participated in the gala event aimed at creating more awareness.