Today is Valentine’s Day, but also International Congenital Heart Disease Day , a favorable date to remember this congenital defect with the highest incidence in Spain , which affects an average of eight out of every thousand babies born. This means 4,000 new cases each year, to which must be added the more than 120,000 young people and adults who chronically live with this pathology in our country.
Congenital heart diseases are those heart diseases that are present from birth and correspond to a developmental disorder of this organ, produced especially in the first three months of pregnancy, or to lesions in the uterus of the already formed heart.
Heart diseases are malformations of the heart or large blood vessels present in the fetus or newborn. Some congenital heart diseases manifest clinically at later ages (months or years later). Children are born with a heart that is missing or incomplete, or has holes in the septa between its chambers, or narrow or leaky valves, or narrow blood vessels.
There are more than 50 different types of malformations of the heart , sometimes the same patient can combine more than one. Some may present a slight risk, requiring only regular check-ups, while others require interventions such as catheterization or surgery, and some more serious ones that require immediate surgery or successive interventions accompanied by long hospital stays until adulthood.
The causes of congenital heart disease are unknown so far, although there are related risk factors such as severe illness or drug intake during pregnancy, family history, chromosomal abnormalities of the child or the age of the parents.
However, there are some things that women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant can do to prevent birth defects in their babies or reduce their chances of appearing, fundamentally carrying out a healthy pregnancy, eating a healthy diet , taking folic acid , avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol, and certain hazards to reduce, as much as possible, the risk of congenital heart disease.