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Although most forms of heart disease in children can’t be prevented, there’s a lot we can do to improve and repair a child’s heart at any age. The pediatric heart experts at Nemours Cardiac Center in Florida offer a range of pediatric programs and services to treat all types of heart problems in children.
Pediatric heart experts at Nemours Cardiac Center in Florida see kids — newborns to teens — with common and extremely complex congenital and acquired heart diseases.
This is a group of abnormalities in which the coronary arteries have abnormal connections to the blood vessels leaving the heart. There are three main categories of anomalous coronary artery.
Sometimes, instead of connecting the main pulmonary artery to a lung, one of those branches makes a connection between the aorta and the lung. This is called “anomalous origin of the right or left pulmonary artery off the aorta.”
Aortic aneurysms (enlargement) and aortic dissections (splits) are diseases of the aorta, which is the main blood vessel that comes out of the heart and delivers oxygen-rich blood to the body.
An aortopulmonary (AP) window is an abnormal connection between the aorta (the blood vessel that delivers oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body) and the pulmonary artery (the blood vessel carrying oxygen-poor blood back to the lungs).
An atrioventricular canal defect is a hole in the center of the heart that causes abnormalities in the artioventricular valves (typically the mitral and bicuspid) that control blood flow.
Congenital (present at birth) mitral valve disease occurs when the mitral valve, which separates the left atrium and left ventricle, is either too tight (“mitral stenosis”) or too loose (“mitral regurgitation”), affecting blood flow.
A congenital (present at birth) sinus of Valsalva aneurysm occurs when the wall of one of the sinuses around the aorta (the main artery that delivers oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body) becomes thin and bulges.
Cor triatriatum is an abnormality in the left atrium, where blood from the lungs enters the heart through an extra chamber located behind the left atrium, resulting in restricted blood flow.
Double outlet right ventricle (DORV) defects are congenital (present at birth) heart problems caused by abnormal connections in the main arteries (the pulmonary artery and the aorta).
Heart failure, also called “congestive heart failure (CHF),” means the heart isn’t pumping enough blood due to problems with one of the heart's ventricles. It's commonly caused by congenital (present at birth) heart problems and myocarditis (infection of the heart).
Heterotaxy syndrome is a developmental defect that causes the heart to form abnormally while still in the womb. The condition impacts the structure of the heart, lungs and the blood vessels connecting them.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a genetic disorder that thickens one or both heart ventricles (pumping chambers). HCM appears to be caused by poorly organized, scarred muscle fibers.
Levo-transposition of the great arteries (levo-TGA), also called “congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries (ccTGA),” means the aorta and pulmonary artery (the main vessels carrying blood from the heart) are attached to the ventricles (pumping chambers) in reverse.
Myocarditis is an inflammation or infection of the myocardium (heart muscle) due to certain viral infections, or the result of an interaction between the immune system and a virus infecting the heart muscle cells.
Partial anomalous pulmonary venous return (PAPVR), also known as “partial anomalous pulmonary venous connection” (PAPVC) is an abnormality of the pulmonary veins, which carry oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart.
Pulmonary artery sling (PAS), also known as an “aberrant left pulmonary artery,” occurs when the left pulmonary artery, the vessel carrying blood from the heart’s right ventricle to the left lung, has an abnormal origin and course.
A pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum (PA/IVS) defect is caused by underdeveloped pulmonary arteries, which carry blood from the heart to the lungs and the right ventricle of the heart.
A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that blocks the arteries delivering oxygen-poor blood to the lungs. They may form in a variety of places in the body initially, but then get dislodged and stuck in the lungs.
Pulmonary valve regurgitation, also called “pulmonary insufficiency,” refers to leakage of the pulmonary valve, which is the valve that prevents backflow of blood into the right ventricle (the chamber of the heart that pumps blood to the lungs) from the pulmonary artery.
Single ventricle congenital heart defects cover a wide spectrum of problems that require a similar series of operations with nearly identical results. Defects involve one of the ventricles (pumping chambers) not pumping blood as it should.
Total anomalous pulmonary venous return is a rare abnormality in which the four pulmonary veins, which carry oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the heart, don’t connect to the heart in the usual way.
Tricuspid atresia means complete blockage of the tricuspid valve, which separates the right atrium (the upper chamber of the heart that receives oxygen-poor blood from the body) and the right ventricle (the lower chamber that pumps that blood out to the lungs).
Coronary sinus syndrome involves an abnormally formed heart vein that carries blood that has fed the heart muscle to the right atrium (one of the upper chambers of the heart). It's usually associated with a hole in the wall dividing the right and left atria (an atrial septal defect).
Vascular ring anomalies occur when blood vessels leaving the heart develop into circles called a “vascular ring” that enclose other structures, such as the trachea (windpipe) or esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach), limiting the growth of those structures.
Williams syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes a narrowed aorta, the main artery carrying blood from the heart to the body (also called supravalvar aortic stenosis, or SVAS), and sometimes a narrowed pulmonary artery, which carries blood from the heart to the lungs.
When your child has a congenital heart defect, there’s usually something wrong with the structure of the heart. In order to understand your child’s condition, it can help to know how the heart should work normally.