congenital heart disease
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congenital heart disease,any defect in the heartheart,
muscular organ that pumps blood to all parts of the body. The rhythmic beating of the heart is a ceaseless activity, lasting from before birth to the end of life. Anatomy and Function
The human heart is a pear-shaped structure about the size of a fist.
..... Click the link for more information. present at birth. There is evidence that some congenital heart defects are inherited, but the cause of most cases is unknown. One known cause is infection of the mother with the rubellarubella
or German measles,
acute infectious disease of children and young adults. It is caused by a filterable virus that is spread by droplet spray from the respiratory tract of an infected individual.
..... Click the link for more information. (German measles) virus during the first trimester of pregnancy. Among the most common congenital heart disorders are malformations in the valves and the persistence of structures that are normally closed off at birth, i.e., the ductus arteriosis (the fetal blood vessel that shunts blood from the pulmonary vein to the aorta, bypassing the heart) and the foramen ovale (the opening between the left and right atria of the fetal heart). If the malformation is severe, it will produce various symptoms of insufficient heart function, such as cyanosis (a bluish tinge to the skin), dyspnea (difficulty in breathing), fatigue, and abnormal heartbeat; valvular deformities predispose the patient to bacterial infection of the endocardium (see endocarditisendocarditis
, bacterial or fungal infection of the endocardium (inner lining of the heart) that can be either acute or subacute. In the acute form the symptoms (fever, malaise, fatigue, weight loss, anemia) are directly related to the presence of an active infection that runs
..... Click the link for more information. ). Less severe malformations may not produce noticeable symptoms until later in life, and some may not require any medical attention. Many congenital heart defects that are debilitating can be corrected surgically. Other congenital anomalies, such as Down syndromeDown syndrome,
congenital disorder characterized by mild to severe mental retardation, slow physical development, and characteristic physical features. Down syndrome affects about 1 in every 730 live births and occurs in all populations equally.
..... Click the link for more information. , are present in about 20% of cases of congenital heart disease. See also heart diseaseheart disease,
any of several abnormalities of the heart and its function in maintaining blood circulation. Heart disease is the cause of approximately half the deaths in the United States each year.
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