Over 50,000 births with congenital heart diseases every year

Karachi: Renowned Paediatric Cardiologist of National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), Dr Najma Patel on Wednesday said up to 50,000 infants are born with congenital heart diseases (CHD) in Pakistan and significant number of these children dies in neonatal life.

She told PPI that over 10,000 children are born with cardiac disorders in Sindh province. According to estimates, out of total 50,000 infants born with congenital heart diseases in country only about 15000 are being registered in the various hospitals of country every year while a significant number of these infants are neither diagnosed in time nor provided with the required intervention. She said significant number of infants and neonates die even without diagnosis.

She said that about 5,000 new cases were being registered every year at NICVD with different cardiovascular diseases. She said congenital heart disease and rheumatic heart disease are common cardiac disorders among children. She said rheumatic fever is caused by a preceding group a streptococcal (strep) infection. She said treating strep throat infection with antibiotics can prevent rheumatic fever. She said rheumatic fever is 100 percent preventable and administration of penicillin can prevent children from rheumatic Heart disease.

Dr Najma Patel informed that cardiovascular diseases occur due to different reasons like chickenpox, infection of mothers during pregnancy, rubella and malnutrition. She said rubella vaccination of mothers is necessary to prevent cardiac problem in infants. She informed that around 500 patients are dealt in the Outpatient Department (OPD) held twice a week at NICVD.

She said incidence of congenital heart diseases is one percent. She informed that the risk of developing the congenital heart diseases increase up to five percent if the mother has heart problem. She said timely referral of infants with cardiovascular diseases to a cardiologist is vital to avoid and prevent further complication.

She lamented there is no primary healthcare system exists in the country and majority of children with cardiac problems die due to the unwariness of doctors. She stressed the need of improvement of primary healthcare system in the country to save precious lives.

She attributed the situation to poor health-care delivery systems, poor resources, fewer tertiary-care centres and limited awareness among the people and even doctors.

She urged the importance of timely referral of the infants who are suffering from cardiovascular diseases to cardiologists to save precious lives. She said rheumatic fever easily prevented through administration of penicillin injection and penicillin tablets to the child who has sore throat.

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