Why congenital heart defects form and what pregnant women need to know


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Doctors know many reasons leading to the formation of congenital heart defects.

The main ones are:

  • acute infections transmitted by the mother in the first 8-10 weeks of pregnancy,
  • bad habits of spouses (alcohol, smoking, drug use),
  • chronic diseases of the mother,
  • burdened hereditary family history,
  • old age of one of the parents,
  • numerous abortions preceding this pregnancy,
  • chronic infections in the mother that penetrate the fetus.

Any of these reasons is a high risk factor for the development of congenital heart disease in the unborn child. Pregnant women who fall into the high-risk group must be sent by the doctors of antenatal clinics for an ultrasound examination (ultrasound) of the fetal heart to exclude a congenital defect. 

However, it is important to note that often the formation of a heart defect in a child occurs against the background of the full health of both parents, and it is not possible to identify the objective cause, despite all the efforts of specialists. This proves the importance of timely, high-quality examination of a pregnant woman, even in cases where none of the parents belongs to a high-risk group and they have no formal cause for concern.

How to plan a pregnancy if you have a heart defect?

Modern medicine has sufficiently effective methods to calculate the degree of risk associated with pregnancy and childbirth in women with heart defects. With their help, doctors help a woman determine the optimal time for conception or decide the fate of an unplanned pregnancy.

The most important of the methods for assessing the state of the cardiovascular system in heart disease is ultrasound of the heart – echocardiography. It is harmless and helps to objectively assess the condition of the cavities, valves and openings of the heart. An auxiliary role in the diagnosis of heart defects is also played by:

  • electrocardiography (ECG – graphic registration of the electrical activity of the heart);
  • phonocardiography (PCG – graphic registration of sound phenomena of the heart);
  • Doppler ultrasound (ultrasound to assess blood flow).

In pregnant women, heart defects account for 0.5 to 10% of all heart diseases. Most often, they have a defect of the interatrial or interventricular septum, a non-closure of the ductus arteriosus. Women with the above defects usually tolerate pregnancy and childbirth well.

Currently, many women who have undergone heart surgery have the opportunity to give birth. The recovery period after such an operation usually takes 1 year. Therefore, it is in a year that you can plan a pregnancy – of course, in the absence of contraindications.

In general, the prognosis for the future mother and child is the worse, the more pronounced the violation of blood circulation and the activity of the rheumatic process. With severe heart failure and a high degree of activity of the rheumatic process, pregnancy is contraindicated. However, the question of maintaining pregnancy is decided by the patient and the doctor in each case.

After childbirth

Immediately after the birth of the child and the placenta, blood rushes to the internal organs, primarily to the abdominal organs. The volume of circulating blood in the vessels of the heart decreases. Therefore, immediately after childbirth, a woman is injected with drugs that support the work of the heart (cardiotonics).

Women with heart defects are discharged from the maternity hospital no earlier than two weeks after giving birth, and only under the supervision of a cardiologist at the place of residence.

If a woman needs to take medications for heart disease after childbirth, breastfeeding is excluded, since many of these drugs pass into milk. If, after delivery, the heart defect remains compensated and treatment is not required, the woman can breastfeed.

Women suffering from rheumatism should especially carefully monitor their health in the first year after childbirth, when, according to statistics, exacerbations of this disease are often observed.

Advice for Women with Heart Disease

Remember that the main reason for the unfavorable outcome of pregnancy and childbirth in those women with heart defects, for whom pregnancy, in principle, is not contraindicated, is insufficient or irregular examination in the antenatal clinic, the lack of comprehensive management of pregnancy by an obstetrician and cardiologist and, as a consequence, insufficient effectiveness of treatment measures and errors in the management of childbirth and the postpartum period.

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  • try to avoid unplanned pregnancy;
  • consult with your supervising cardiologist before pregnancy; find out if you are able to bear the baby and for which method of delivery you should prepare;
  • if you suffer from congenital heart disease, by all means (preferably before pregnancy) consult a geneticist;
  • find out what regimen you should follow in order not to put yourself and your unborn child at risk, how to eat right, what physical therapy exercises could help you to bear and give birth to a child;
  • do not miss your appointments to the antenatal clinic and appointments with a cardiologist, go through all the prescribed examinations on time;
  • do not refuse hospitalization and taking medications – after all, not only your well-being, but also the health and life of your baby depends on how effectively your heart is supported.

Where to get diagnostics of cardiovascular diseases in Kyrgyzstan?

1) MC “Cardio Asia +”, Osh

Medical Center “Cardio Asia Plus” has been operating since December 21, 2012. The clinic has been providing high-tech cardiological care, since 2016 – and modern neurosurgical care.

The specialists of MC “Cardio Asia +” have a prestigious reputation and are leading experts in their field. They will help to establish the cause of pain in the region of the heart, arrhythmias, arterial hypertension and a number of problems. The main advantage of the company is an individual approach to each client, which allows the company’s employees to correctly diagnose and treat.  

“Cardio Asia +”  applies the most innovative methods of diagnostics and treatment of heart diseases. The clinic is equipped with high-class equipment. In its work, the organization uses only safe and high quality products from trusted manufacturers. A distinctive feature of the company has become the constant accompaniment of the patient, which makes it possible to improve health, prevent complications and other problems.  

I would like to note that such experienced, highly qualified cardiac surgeons as Eraliev Talant Kakanovich, Kamchybek Isabaev, Adakham Davydov work in Osh.
It should be noted that on November 26, 2020, for the first time in Kyrgyzstan, on the basis of the Osh Regional Clinical Hospital, together with Cardio Asia Plus doctors, endovoscular X-ray surgeons Eraliev Talant Kakanovich, Krestyaninov Oleg Viktorovich and Ashirov Kanat Turgunbaevich performed a unique operation to implant the aortic valve professor Osh of Mathematical Sciences to Karimov Saly Karimovich.

In mid-February 2021, the following operations were performed:

  • More than 20 diagnostic procedures;
  • Surgery for congenital heart defects: occluders, atrial septal defects and open arieroal ducts
  • Performed technically complex percutaneous coronary interventions for lesions of coronary vessels
  • Aortic endoprosthetics for infrarenal aneurysm
  • Stenting for stenosis of the carotid artery
  • Recanalization and stenting for lesions of the subclavian arteries.

All interventions were successful. 

2) Research Institute of Heart Surgery (NIIHSTO)

The operations are performed by an experienced cardiovascular surgeon, arrhythmologist Abai Turdubaev.

Let’s talk about another clinical case of a patient with a heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia), which occurred in early February 2021.

Patient O. 57 years old over the past three years has been complaining of a prolonged, rhythmic rapid heartbeat, which occurs suddenly and lasts more than 12 hours. Due to the increased frequency and duration of seizures, the cardiologist sent the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic to NIIKHSTO to conduct EFI, RFA.

Atrial flutter (AT) is one of the most common cardiac arrhythmias, characterized by a fast, regular atrial rhythm due to a reverse impulse circulation (reentry) mechanism. As a result, an ultramodern operation was performed – radiofrequency ablation (EFI, RFA). The patient is now in excellent condition; sinus rhythm has been restored.

The Research Institute of Heart Surgery and Organ Transplantation (NIIHSTO) is a state medical and preventive, research and development organization of health care at the tertiary level, providing specialized medical care in the field of cardiovascular surgery and organ transplantation and carrying out medical and preventive and scientific activities.

3) Southern Regional Scientific Center for Cardiovascular Surgery, Jalal-Abad

The South Regional Center for Cardiovascular Surgery in Jalal-Abad was opened in 2011 as a branch of the National Center for Heart Surgery and Organ Transplantation.

Every day from all over the region from 2 to 5 patients with acute coronary syndrome or heart attack, as well as from the neighboring Osh region and Leilek district of Batken region, come here.

It is one of the leaders among the medical organizations of the Kyrgyz Republic, providing the population with highly qualified and high-tech cardiological and cardiac surgery care that meets the most advanced achievements of modern medicine in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients with cardiovascular diseases.

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