It’s February and if you are a Mom of a “Heart Hero” you know how important this month is to us. February 7-14 every year, the world celebrates our precious ones with congenital heart defects (CHD). For the next five days, I will share with you my heart hero, my son Jacob!
Jacob was born with a congenital heart defect Tetralogy of Fallot.
From the CDC:
Facts about Tetralogy of Fallot
Tetralogy of Fallot (pronounced te-tral-uh-jee of Fal-oh) is a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart. It happens when a baby’s heart does not form correctly as the baby grows and develops in the mother’s womb during pregnancy.
What is Tetralogy of Fallot?
Tetralogy of Fallot is made up of the following four defects of the heart and its blood vessels:
- A hole in the wall between the two lower chambers―or ventricles―of the heart. This condition also is called a ventricular septal defect.
- A narrowing of the pulmonary valve and main pulmonary artery. This condition also is called pulmonary stenosis.
- The aortic valves, which opens to the aorta, is enlarged and seems to open from both ventricles, rather than from the left ventricle only, as in a normal heart. In this defect, the aortic valve sits directly on top of the ventricular septal defect.
- The muscular wall of the lower right chamber of the heart (right ventricle) is thicker than normal. This also is called ventricular hypertrophy.
Because a baby with tetralogy of Fallot may need surgery or other procedures soon after birth, this birth defect is considered a critical congenital heart defect. Congenital means present at birth.
This heart defect can cause oxygen in the blood that flows to the rest of the body to be reduced. Infants with tetralogy of Fallot can have a bluish-looking skin color―called cyanosis―because their blood doesn’t carry enough oxygen. At birth, infants might not have blue-looking skin, but later might develop sudden episodes of bluish skin during crying or feeding. These episodes are called tet spells.
Infants with tetralogy of Fallot or other conditions causing cyanosis can have problems including:
- A higher risk of getting an infection of the layers of the heart called endocarditis.
- A higher risk of having irregular heart rhythms, called arrhythmia.
- Dizziness, fainting, or seizures, because of the low oxygen levels in their blood.
- Delayed growth and development.
Listed below are examples of different types of CHDs from the www.cdc.gov website. The types marked with a star (*) are considered critical CHDs.
- Atrial Septal Defect
- Atrioventricular Septal Defect
- Coarctation of the Aorta*
- Double-outlet right ventricle*
- d-Transposition of the great arteries*
- Ebstein anomaly*
- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome*
- Interrupted aortic arch*
- Pulmonary atresia*
- Single ventricle*
- Tetralogy of Fallot*
- Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return*
- Tricuspid atresia*
- Truncus Arteriosus*
- Ventricular Septal Defect
If you are looking for more information about congenital heart defects, check out this list from the CDC website of other organizations committed to understanding more about congenital heart defects.
You can find out more about my son’s journey in my book at “Jacob’s Journal – My Journey Home.”