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Children’s heart: what parents need to know

Children's heart: what parents need to know

The main task of the heart is to pump the oxygen-rich arterial blood from the heart to the internal organs and take back the venous blood enriched with carbon dioxide and deprived of oxygen. The latter enters the lungs through the veins, where it gives off carbon dioxide and is enriched with oxygen, after which it again goes to the heart and internal organs.

The rudiments of this organ in the form of a heart tube appear in the embryo on the 17th day of intrauterine life, that is, at the very beginning of pregnancy. After a few days, the heart tube begins to pulse and does not stop.

At 4–5 weeks gestation, the embryo’s heart is already like an adult’s heart. So that in the process of forming this body there should not be failures, it is very important that from the first weeks of pregnancy the expectant mother should lead a healthy lifestyle.

Heart disease is considered a lot of adults, but sometimes babies have reasons to go to a cardiologist. Most often this is due to the fact that during the childbearing development of the heart and blood vessels was disturbed. In the overwhelming majority of such cases, doctors talk about small anomalies of the development of the heart (MARS), congenital anatomical changes of this organ as well as the great vessels that do not lead to gross violations of the functions of the cardiovascular system.

These include an open oval window, an open arterial duct, valve prolapse, stenosis of the valves and heart vessels, and additional chords. Just say why they are formed, it is impossible.

Doctors usually cite genetic anomalies as a cause, infections, which, together with the mother, the crumb suffered before birth, the intake of certain drugs and the harmful effects of certain substances.

The doctor may suspect MARS if he hears noises when applying the phonendoscope to the child’s chest – sounds that occur during the pauses between heartbeats. The noise indicates that the rate of blood flow has changed and, possibly, turbulence has formed in it.

To accurately determine the cause of the noise, the child is directed to an electrocardiogram and ultrasound of the heart and blood vessels (echocardiography – EchoCG). The first study allows you to track the rhythm of the heart, and the second – to detect the slightest changes in this body. In most cases, it turns out that a special correction of the work of the heart and blood vessels is not needed.

And although the cardiologist takes the baby under observation, the child continues to lead a normal life. Doctors strongly advise in this case to follow the principles of rational nutrition, to walk more in the fresh air and to visit a cardiologist 1–2 times a year.

He monitors the timbre, character and dynamics of noise, during their transformation, assigns echocardiography. If research results reveal problems, then surgery may be necessary.

But it is usually minimal.

Electrocardiogram (ECG) and echocardiography (echocardiography) are two completely different studies, not replacing, but only complementary. The ECG registers on a moving paper tape or photographic film in the form of a curve the bioelectric potentials of the working heart.

With its help, for example, they detect various types of arrhythmias. EchoCG – ultrasound of the heart, with which you can see the features of its structure.

After severe bacterial and viral infections, such as scarlet fever, it is strongly recommended to make an ECG, and if its results reveal problems, then EchoCG.

The most common sources of murmur in the heart are the oval window, the open arterial duct and the extra or extra chords. The first is a hole in the septum between the atria, the second is the connection between the two main vessels: the pulmonary artery and the aorta, and the chords are connective-tissue threads that are attached to the valve valves on the one hand and the muscles of the heart on the other. They can cause noise when located across the blood stream.

If this is the only cause of noise and other deviations in the structure and work of the heart, do not worry: this circumstance will not affect the work of the heart.

As for the oval window and the open arterial duct, they are in all children in the mother’s stomach. After giving birth, these openings should close, and not necessarily immediately. The oval window can remain open up to 7 years.

But when it remains at the age of 7, doctors already speak of an atrial septal defect. If at the same time the right side of the heart is not dilated and the pressure in the pulmonary artery is not elevated, the crumbs, as a rule, remain in good health, he leads a normal life.

The only restriction is that people with a similar violation should not go diving.

With the open arterial duct, the situation is a little different. It should close during the first month of life. If this does not occur, it is recommended to perform the operation.

Under normal conditions, the crumbs of the doctor wait until he gains weight, and throughout the entire waiting period they must carefully monitor the work of the baby’s heart. During the operation, a thin catheter is inserted into the vessel located on the thigh.

With it, the problem area is closed with a small spiral. For an adult, such manipulation is carried out without anesthesia.

Children usually, so that they do not turn around, do minimal anesthesia.

Children's heart: what parents need to know

Sometimes a baby can be diagnosed with valve prolapse – this is the name of the sagging of their valves. In this case, part of the blood from the ventricles returns to the atrium.

The degree of severity of the problem is determined depending on how much blood is going back and how much the flaps sag. One of the symptoms of this deviation from the norm can also be heart murmurs.

Prolapse is most commonly found in the mitral valve. But usually the treatment is not necessary.

As the crumbs mature, the connective tissue of which the flaps consist is compacted, and they acquire the correct shape.

The situation opposite to prolapse – stenosis of the valves and vessels. The holes through which the blood moves, narrowing, an obstacle in the way of the blood causes the heart muscle to strain, gradually it thickens (this is easily detected on the Echo-cardiography) and begins to wear out.

If you do not take action, the internal organs will be nutritionally deficient and will begin to lag behind in development.

Stenosis can be congenital and acquired. The cause of the latter may be infection, damaging the valve sash.

For this reason, it is very important to completely cure all acute respiratory infections and strictly follow the recommendations of the doctor for taking antibiotics. Operation will help to correct the situation.

In modern medicine, minimally invasive techniques are increasingly used. With the help of a thin plastic catheter, a balloon filled with liquid is brought to a narrowed place and the problem area is expanded.

The main “scary story” for parents is arrhythmia. It is detected when removing the electrocardiogram.

But before you grab your heart, listen carefully to the doctor. Sinus or respiratory arrhythmia for children is considered normal. The heart of the baby is still adapting to changing conditions, it is not sufficiently trained, so the rhythm of its work varies depending on the phases of breathing.

When inhaling, the heartbeat slows down (bradycardia), while exhaling accelerates (tachycardia). Extrasystoles can also be detected in a baby – premature contractions of the heart.

In the latter case, the doctor will prescribe additional studies and tell you how regularly you need to undergo a scheduled examination. With age, such deviations can pass.

If the doctor suspects serious problems, he will refer the baby to a cardiologist. Depending on the results of the cardiogram and ultrasound of the heart, daily monitoring of the heart can be prescribed.

In this case, a device that records an electrocardiogram during the day (holter) is placed on the child. After decoding the results of treatment. His tactics are determined only by the doctor.

But most often the case is limited to taking drugs that help to establish a rhythmic contraction of the heart muscle.

It also happens that a child is sent for examination to other specialists. After all, the cause of arrhythmias can be disorders in the thyroid gland, nervous system, viral and bacterial infections.

In this case, the endocrinologist, neurologist or pediatrician will deal with the treatment of deviations from the norm, in addition to the cardiologist, respectively.

The heart during life undergoes a series of significant changes. And the most significant – during the first years of life.

In the newborn, this organ weighs 20–50 g, its size in the diameter is 3–3.5 cm. But in relation to body weight it is larger than in an adult: 0.8–1% and 0.4–0.5%, respectively. By the end of the first year, the weight of the heart doubles, by 3 years it is tripled.

The shape of the heart of a newborn resembles a ball, because the ventricles are not yet sufficiently developed. The same form as in an adult, it will acquire only by 10–14 years.

The walls of the heart in a child are thinner than in an adult. Thus, the thickness of the walls of the ventricles in a newborn is 5.5 mm.

Over time, when the load on the heart increases, it increases: in the left ventricle – up to 12 mm, in the right – up to 6-7 mm. The fabric of which the valves are made is more elastic in babies, which may cause prolapse of heart valves.

Changes relate to the volume of the heart. At birth, it is about 22 cm3, during the first year of life it increases by 20 cm3, then the annual increase is 6-10 cm3.

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