Heart disease is one of the most common congenital diseases in children, and if not treated, it affects its growth and health, so early diagnosis and treatment are important. What are the most prominent heart diseases in children? Is it genetic or acquired? How do I know if my child has a heart problem? What are the most prominent symptoms in infants?

These and more questions were directed to Professor Ziad Hijazi, Chief of Cardiology at Sidra Medicine in Qatar, and here are the answers:

What are the most prominent heart diseases in children?

Congenital heart disease in children is one of the most common congenital diseases, with one in every 100 births showing a congenital heart defect.

Some diseases are very simple, and there is another section that needs surgical intervention or catheter intervention.

Congenital diseases in children are divided into:

  • Cyanocautic heart disease: The color of the child is blue because the blood loaded with carbon dioxide mixes with the blood loaded with oxygen, and the skin, lips and fingers become blue.
  • Non-cyanotic heart disease:in which oxygen-laden blood mixes with carbon dioxide-laden blood (i.e. more oxygen-laden blood), and the child does not have cyanosis.
  • Among the most prominent heart problems facing children:

    • The presence of a hole in the heart between the left and right ventricles.
    • The presence of a hole in the heart between the atria and the right.
    • Congenital malformations of valves such as the aortic valve, tricuspid valve and pulmonary valve.
    • Atrophy of the left ventricle.
    • Atrophy of the right ventricle.

    There are currently 134 types of congenital heart abnormalities in children, and most cases of heart disease are non-hereditary, and result from inflammation in pregnant women, so if the pregnant mother suffers from rubella, for example, a heart defect may occur in the child.

    On the other hand, there are genetic conditions, so if a child has Down syndrome, for example, there is a possibility that he has a congenital heart defect.

    When do symptoms of heart disease appear in children?

    There is a section of heart disease whose symptoms appear immediately after birth as a result of severe narrowing of the valves, or atrophy in the ventricle. A number of these diseases can be diagnosed during pregnancy.

    Therefore, in some cases, the mother is recommended to perform an "ecocardiogram", or cardiac ultrasound during pregnancy, until it is confirmed that the fetus does not have a heart defect.

    Another section of heart disease is asymptomatic and is discovered later.

    "Currently, about half of the patients are over 18 years old in my clinic and did not have any symptoms of heart disease, but they appeared later," says Dr. Ziad Hijazi.

    How do I know if my child has a heart problem?

    Regular examination of children by the pediatrician is very necessary, if the doctor hears an abnormal sound in the heart (murmurs in the heart), an examination should be performed by a cardiologist to confirm whether the child has problems, such as an opening in the heart.

    Also, if the child has symptoms, he should be seen by a pediatrician, such as suffering from poor growth, as this may be caused by a congenital heart defect.

    What are the symptoms of a congenital heart defect?

    Some cases don't have symptoms, unlike others that have symptoms. Prof Hijazi said: "We say to parents compare your child to other children, if he is not matching them it could be due to heart disease.

    Symptoms of heart disease include:

    • shortness of breath
    • Pants
    • Cyanosis
    • chest pain
    • Rapid heartbeat

    Prof. Hijazi stressed that it is important to check the baby's pulse and perform an ECG.

    Prof. Hijazi: Treatment of heart abnormalities includes surgery, medications and catheter intervention, and it is rare that we need a heart transplant (Al Jazeera)

    What are the main symptoms of heart disease in infants?

    If an infant has a congenital heart defect, most often at birth his pressure is low, has cyanosis and, in some cases, shock.

    Also, in some cases, he does not have symptoms, but when the doctor puts the stethoscope on the heart, he hears a "murmur in the heart", and then the infant undergoes other tests to make sure that there is any abnormality in the heart.

    Treatment for congenital heart defects in children depends on the condition and includes surgery, medications and catheter intervention, and it is rare for an infant to need a heart transplant.

    Prof. Hijazi is a world leader in several major interventional catheter procedures and is internationally acclaimed for the non-surgical repair of congenital and structural heart defects in children and adults, and in the development of new transcatheter devices.

    Professor Hijazi joined Sidra Medicine in Qatar in 2014, where he established the hospital's Pediatrics Department and laid the foundation stone for the world's comparable Heart Center, which attracted a team of leading pediatrics and healthcare professionals from around the world. The Heart Center provides medical, interventional, electrical and surgical treatment for patients with congenital or acquired heart disease.

    Professor Hijazi performed the first multi-coil closure of a patient's ductus arteriosus closure in 1993, and was the first to use a "plug" in the United States to close a birth defect in the septum between the right and left atrium in 1997. He was the first to describe how intracardiac echocardiography was used to help guide catheter closure for atrial septal defects in children and P. ovale in 2000.

    Hijazi was the first in the United States to perform a catheter valve implant on patients with damaged pulmonary valves using the Edward Sabian valve in 2005.

    Prof. Hijazi is an expert in closing leaks into mitral valves and aortic valves by catheter.