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Congenital Heart Disease

Updated on November 7, 2008

Congenital Heart Disease

The pumping chamber of the heart, the valves that separate these chambers and allow the blood to flow in one direction only, the blood vessels leading from the heart to the lungs and other parts of the body are deformed and fail to function properly. Two major problems result: one is heart failure, and inability of the heart to pump blood effectively; and second, is the failure of the blood to pass through the lungs when it normally exchanges carbon dioxide and oxygen with breathed in air. The lack of new supply of oxygen in the blood causes the skin, espe­cially underneath the nails, to become blue. In severe cases, the tips of the fingers become clubbed. Fainting spells may also occur. Other symptoms of heart failure are shortness of breath, cough, increase in the size of the liver, and accumulation of fluid in the body which is noticeable in the swelling of the ankles.

Heart failure is treated with digitalis, restriction of salt in the diet, and diuretics (fluid pills). It is best to refer the patient to a medical cen­ter.


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