Studies show that nearly 1 percent of all new-born infants have some type of structural heart defect. In infants, heart failure often presents with breathing trouble, poor feeding, poor growth, excessive sweating or even low blood pressure. At times, heart failure can look like other problems such as colic, pneumonia or other respiratory infections.
As such, medical professionals at Apollo Hospitals suggest that parents must seek help from paediatric or congenital heart cardiologist instantly – for further evaluation and testing. While Apollo’s tertiary paediatric cardiac center performs open heart surgeries on small babies and complex cases in high volumes, most of the cases which are referred from Middle East are complex or second/third-time open heart surgeries or children who come late with extremely damaged hearts. However, the hospital holds a fine record in treating most conditions and has performed over 5000 successful heart operations on children in the previous decade.
In Accordance to Dr Neville Solomon Paediatric Cardiac Surgeon at Apollo Hospitals, many of the children from Middle East are either suffering from common AV canal or truncus arteriosus. Babies with the former diagnosis usually have Down's syndrome and often come late and sick with very high blood flow and pressures in the lungs.
Many of the children from Africa come with interesting anatomical challenges. Currently, the hospital operated a young girl who was less than five-year-old with multiple congenital cardiac problems. Her aorta, the main pipe supplying blood to the whole body was damaged. This condition described as right aortic arch with aberrant left subclavian artery is an extreme abnormality of an essential vessel and branches causing collateral compromise on neighbouring vital structures. The child also had unroofed coronary sinus syndrome and obstruction of the pathway to the lungs and various extracardiac issues. The team at Apollo performed valve repairs on the valves rather than replacement. Though the condition was complex, the team at Apollo executed a successful procedure, providing a new lease of life to the patient.
Previous year, Apollo carried out heart surgeries on nearly 50 new-borns (less than 28 days old). 27 were arterial switch operations. These are extremely complex surgeries where the blood supply of the baby's heart is completely rerouted. In addition, many of these babies are less than 3 kgs-some as low as 1.6 kgs to 2.3 kgs. Many of these surgeries are undertaken from the age of 6 days to 2-3 weeks. Results have been exceptional, and most are cured for life. Some other cases include complications as total anomalous pulmonary venous connection (where the vessels returning blood from the lungs are directed to the wrong side of the heart from birth) and this has to be diverted back to the correct side by a series of intricate manoeuvres. Other cases in the age group include coarctation of aorta (where the pipe supplying blood to the heart is narrowed, often requiring emergency surgery).
Heart problems, if treated on time, with a healthy diet and accurate care can be addressed to its best capacity. It is essential that parents notice changing developments in children and seek help from specialists on time.