Congenital Heart Defects 101
The ultimate aim of this blog is to make as many people aware of congenital heart disease as possible. Up to now I have held back a little on the awareness side of things and tried to set the scene of my life with congenital heart disease; however, I think that people will be getting bored of me soon enough.
Here begins an increased effort to teach about the ins and outs of congenital heart disease - I am still actively looking for trades and will never give up on that but it may be put on the back burner for a short while.
Today I would like to look at Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). The Ductus Arteriosus is what is known as a shunt - a hole that allows fluid to bypass a particular system. The particular system here is the lungs.
The lungs are filled with fluid when a baby is in the womb and there is no point to more than a trickle of blood being directed there as it is not where the body gets its oxygen supply from. When a baby is born and takes its first breath a peptide called Bradykinin is released; this reduces bloodflow through the shunt and directs the blood the lungs.
The shunt should then close up after around 15 days because it is no longer being used; much like if you don't use an ear piercing. If the shunt does not close then this is known as PDA. The main reason for the shunt not closing is that when an infant takes its first breaths not enough oxygen reaches the lungs to create enough Bradykinin; thus the heart defect can be a cause of external factors or it can be that the baby has trouble breathing - one example of this is that the lungs are not fully developed as in the case of premature babies.
The shunt can be closed surgically and this is the most popular method but for premature babies drugs can be given that help it develop without the need for risky surgery.