Is having heart disease from birth related to sudden death?
Congenital heart disease is a leading cause of infant mortality. Similarly, heart failure and sudden death are the two main reasons for cardiovascular death in adults diagnosed with heart defects at birth. However, the long-term survival of these patients varies according to the severity of the heart disease, its treatment, the development of risk factors, and possible complications.
Congenital heart disease affects eight per thousand live newborns in the world and largely determines their mortality.
Although the prevalence has been increasing due to the detection of these heart defects by specialized tests such as echocardiography, the survival chances of people born with these defects have also increased as a result of advances in their management and treatment. However, taking into account that every year 130 million children are born worldwide and about four million die in the neonatal period, it is estimated that 7% of these deaths are related to congenital heart diseases, so it is essential to continue working on the study of these malformations.
According to a report published by the Children's Cardiology Unit of the Hospital Universitario Fundación Alocorcón, in Madrid, Spain, 90% of sudden deaths are due to cardiac causes, so it would be possible to identify patients at risk before the event and prevent it. According to the document, the most frequent causes of sudden cardiac death include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy of the right ventricle, and coronary anomalies, among others that are congenital related.
Therefore, one of the interventions recommended to reduce mortality in children is to examine the anatomy of the fetal heart regularly, using obstetric ultrasound, and thus plan the most appropriate neonatal care at a convenient time and place. It is important to highlight that congenital heart diseases allowed to evolve naturally in the neonatal period have a high mortality rate, as they may represent a complex disease, or due to the severity of their manifestation. A high degree of suspicion will allow initiating an adequate evaluation and medical treatment.
Clinical symptoms of congenital heart disease may vary depending on the malformation, although they usually manifest with heart failure, cyanosis -blue skin coloration-, or a combination of both, signs that show the gravity of the anomaly.