Can a child die from a hole in the heart (nowadays, with the latest technology available) and if so, how? Bacterial infection etc.?
A "hole in the heart" usually refers to a defect of the wall between the left and right chambers. Between the atria, or chambers that accept blood into the heart, patent foramen ovale (PFO) and atrial septal defect (ASD) are the common defects. Between the ventricles, or larger pumping chambers, a "hole" would cause a VSD, or ventricular septal defect.
Illustrations are from NMT Medical.
A Patent Foramen Ovale, or PFO occurs when a natural opening in the heart (necessary for the growing fetus) doesn't close after birth. About 25% of adults and kids have a PFO. Yes! That's one in four of you guys! But the good news is, this rarely causes problems for children. In adults who get strokes for unknown reasons, the cause can sometimes be a PFO, where blood clots escape to the "other" side of the circulatory system and cause strokes.
An Atrial Septal Defect, or ASD is a common heart malformation in babies. In moderate to large holes, they can cause problems with shunting (blood traveling the wrong direction). But nowadays, these are easily repaired.
And finally, a Ventricular Septal Defect or VSD is often managed with medications but can be surgically repaired if causing serious symptoms of shortness of breath and heart failure.
So for Christina's question, can someone still die from these, in this day and age? Without repair, many with serious ASD and VSDs can have heart problems as kids and later in life. There are plenty of circumstances when kids can't get adequate medical care and these problems could potentially become deadly. With repair, they are still at risk for infection of the surgical site (bacterial endocarditis), but most people get antibiotics to prevent this (such as before dental work). And PFOs usually don't cause trouble at all in kids.
The bottom line? A hole in your heart is often not as deadly as we think it might be. But they make for good pop songs (cue cheesy Extreme song from 1991). Hope this answers your question. If you have more, feel free to email me!
Please keep in mind this post is for writing purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice!
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