Born Broken-Hearted: Congenital Heart Defects are the Most Common Birth Defects, but Many are Fixable
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, more than 1 million adults in the United States are living with congenital heart defects. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect, affecting 8 out of every 1,000 newborns. More than 35,000 babies are born each year in the United States with congenital heart defects. Most people who have complex heart defects continue to need special heart care throughout their lives.
During American Heart Month, it’s a good time to learn a little bit more about congenital heart defects. Here are some frequently-asked-questions.
What is congenital heart disease and how is it different from other kinds of heart disease?
Congenital heart disease is a condition with which you are born. Other kinds of heart disease may develop over time, whether through infection, coronary artery disease, trauma or other reasons.
Does congenital heart disease always cause a problem?
Not always. There are some people whose congenital heart disease is not even recognized until they are adults or even elderly. Small holes in the heart that have not caused problems are an example. Often, especially now with prenatal imaging, congenital heart problems are detected very early and can be treated earlier.
Can congenital heart problems be fixed?
Yes, many congenital heart problems can be treated through surgery or, in some cases, heart transplantation.
What are some of the most common examples of congenital heart problems?
- A ventricular septal defect, commonly known as a “hole in the heart” occurs when the wall separating the bottom chambers of the heart doesn’t form properly, causing blood to leak from the left ventricle into the right ventricle, instead of moving into the body. This condition can lead to heart failure, high blood pressure, infection, irregular heartbeat and growth delays. Some holes close on their own and others require surgery.
- An atrial septal defect occurs when the wall between the top two chambers of the heart doesn’t close properly.
- Patent ductus arteriosus occurs when a blood vessel that allows blood to bypass the lungs while a fetus is getting oxygen through the placenta fails to close after birth. This can cause infection or heart failure and can be treated with medicines or surgery if necessary.
- Pulmonary valve stenosis occurs when the pulmonary valve narrows, limiting blood flow from the right ventricle to the lungs.
- Aortic stenosis makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood into the aorta and then into the rest of the body.
- Tetralogy of Fallot is a combination of four defects that cause an insufficient amount of oxygenated blood to reach the body. Babies born with this condition were once known as “blue babies,” and this condition requires surgery early in life.
- See illustrations of these conditions here.
There are other congenital heart defects as well. Click here for more information on any of these conditions and how they are treated.
Just as there are different kinds of patients, there are different kinds of hospitals. Kindred Transitional Care Hospitals provide a wide range of services to help patients with complex medical issues who need additional recovery time after a stay at a traditional hospital. While every patient receives individualized care from a team of healthcare professionals, our goal is for each person to reach the highest level of recovery before discharge.
With our Direct Admit Program, physicians can admit medically complex patients from short-term acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health and other service providers directly to a Kindred Hospital. We work directly with physicians to make sure their patients have a smooth transition into our hospitals and the highest level of care continuity to prevent future readmissions.
At Kindred Transitional Care Hospitals we work with patients who need:
Physicians can refer patients who have undergone cardiac surgery and developed wounds or an infection, or those who have post myocardial infarction with complications. Patients with congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, heart valve disease or peripheral vascular disease also are referred to Kindred Hospitals for more intensive care.
Complex Wound Care Services
Kindred Hospitals specialize in treating surgical wounds, pressure ulcers with complications and other chronic or complex wounds, including amputations, burns or peripheral artery disease.
Diabetic Management Services
Patients with diabetes can experience complications that not only increase the length of stay and medical costs, but also put at risk their ability to recover. Our clinical team develops a treatment plan for each diabetic patient to improve blood glucose control in order to reduce complications such as painful neuropathy, diabetic foot ulcers, diabetic retinopathy and hypertension.
Pulmonary Care Services
For patients who require mechanical ventilator support, our clinical team develops a comprehensive treatment plan designed to help patients breathe on their own again. Patients with pneumonia, obstructive sleep apnea and other conditions benefit from non-invasive ventilator management, inspiratory muscle training and other therapies.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation Services
Respiratory patients with obstructive diseases such as COPD or restrictive diseases such as Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis receive pulmonary care and rehabilitation services to not only control and alleviate disease symptoms, but also to improve quality of life and become more independent.
Physicians treating patients with a recent history of unstable cardiac rhythm, recent myocardial infarction or active ischemic heart disease can refer those patients to a Kindred Hospital for telemetry monitoring.
In addition to these services, the Subacute Units in Kindred Hospitals focus on patients who don’t need the intensive medical care of a hospital but do need additional care and rehabilitation before going home or to a facility such as a skilled nursing center. As soon as a patient is admitted to a Subacute Unit, discharge planning begins. The goal is to help each patient regain function and safely return home as quickly as recovery permits by offering comprehensive rehabilitation programs, advanced pulmonary and respiratory therapy care and other personalized services. We also work extensively with the patient and family members so they are prepared to manage daily routines after discharge.
To learn more about services offered in Kindred Transitional Hospitals, click here.
February 9 -15, 2014 is National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week.
It may be time to leave the hospital, but you may not be ready to return directly home after recovering from a heart attack. If you need extra care, your physician may send you to a Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for our Cardiac Specialty Program. Our services help you transition from hospital to home as quickly and safely as possible, and reduce the likelihood that you’ll need to go back to the hospital.
For patients recovering from a heart attack, pacemaker placement and other cardiac-related surgeries and conditions, Kindred’s Cardiac Specialty Program offers the support of a team of cardiologists, nurses, dietitians, therapists and other care providers. We develop a comprehensive cardiac profile to manage risk factors and create a customized treatment plan that includes a progressive exercise regimen tailored to each patient’s needs and abilities. In addition to physical therapy, we offer occupational and speech therapies up to seven days a week. Patients also get help with smoking cessation, stress reduction and nutrition to promote a healthy lifestyle.
The goal is to get our patients ready to manage basic daily activities at home and improve mobility. We work to increase the distance walked during a 6-minute walk test and to improve changes in breathlessness and exertion while exercising. We also assist with care planning and educate patients and their families on what to expect to help make the transition as smooth as possible and prevent further complications.
Easy Admission and Discharge
Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers offer streamlined admission and discharge processes so patients can quickly get the care they need after leaving the hospital and get home faster once they’re better. With our reservation program, a room can even be reserved prior to surgery.
You can find out more about the other specialty programs offered at our Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers here in addition to other resources for patients and their families. To search for a facility near you, use our facility locator.
When you are injured or ill, you may need rehabilitation services to help in recovery. Rehabilitation helps you improve your body’s functions, but there are different levels of services depending on your medical condition. Our Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospitals (also known as IRFs) are for patients who need a higher level of care and more intense occupational, physical and speech therapy.
Patients in a Kindred Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospital are medically stable, but also need 24-hour nursing care and daily physician oversight. They are considered able to perform at least three hours of therapy a day, five days a week. Our goal is to restore function as fully as possible, and help the patient learn how to do things differently when functions can’t be restored to previous levels.
Kindred Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospitals offer the following services:
Brain Injury Rehabilitation
Our program provides therapists certified in the Neuro-IFRAH (Integrative Functional Rehabilitation and Habilitation) approach, a personalized treatment plan for each patient and ongoing care with the goal of preparing patients to return home independently or with assistance from family members or other care providers. We can help people restore functions so they can maximize their independence and adapt to the changes caused by the brain injury.
Lower Extremity Amputation Rehabilitation
We focus on helping patients improve overall mobility, health and independence. Our program includes caring for the residual limb and using the prosthesis. We also help patients assess any environmental changes that will need to be made at work or at home.
Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation
In this program, we teach patients how to adapt to and manage the activities of daily living, including eating, bathing and dressing. Our goal is to help patients improve their health, adapt to the changes to their bodies and adjust to living in their home and community.
Our program helps improve speech and language and communication through speaking and writing, and focuses on managing basic daily activities such as bathing or eating. We work with patients to increase balance and coordination and improve memory and judgment.
For those patients who are well enough to be discharged from the hospital but who still need rehabilitation services, we also offer outpatient services for a wide variety of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders, as well as for general rehabilitation. The benefits of outpatient services include increased strength and mobility, improved balance and decreased pain.
To learn more about these services, click here.
Kindred currently has five Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospitals:
St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Hospital (Chesterfield, Missouri)
Central Texas Rehabilitation Hospital (Austin, Texas)
Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital Arlington (Arlington, Texas)
Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital Clear Lake (Webster, Texas)
Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital Northeast Houston (Humble, Texas)
During a Google hangout, the president fielded questions and criticisms from participants disappointed with the Obamacare rollout. Read the story
The rollout was a problem because the website wasn’t working properly. I will say that in all these big programs … there are going to be some glitches involved. — President Obama
Hospice Requirements Altered for Providers in Skilled Nursing Facilities
Under the Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will begin collecting more data on hospice care provided in skilled nursing facilities, effective April 1, 2014. Read the story
New Rule Gives Patients Direct Access to Lab Results
While patients used to have to wait to hear from a doctor about lab results, a new rule will allow them easier and direct access to the results without a physician middleman, but those critical of the rule say many patients won’t know what to do with the information. Read the story
Americans Largely Believe Elderly Responsible for Their Own Care
A Pew Research Center study found that almost half of Americans polled said the elderly themselves bore the most responsibility for their own care. Read the story
New Trend Aims to Cut Down on Long, Costly Hospital Stays
At work is a trend called “hot-spotting,” in which healthcare providers use data about a hospital’s “super-users” — the small percentage of patients that are responsible for the most frequent, longest and costliest stays — to identify ways to keep these patients out of the hospital. Read the story
Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s Researchers Collaborate
Because the two diseases are characterized by similar biological processes, three foundations are teaming up in the hopes that a collaborative effort may yield more progress toward treatments or cures. Read the story
Administration Seeks the Uninsured by Using New Tools
With just 60 days left for enrollment through the healthcare exchanges, the government has identified the geographical areas that are home to the most uninsured Americans, and officials are targeting those areas for enrollment efforts. Read the story
Federal officials have identified 25 key metro areas to focus on. The top two are in Texas: Dallas and Houston. Next come Miami and Atlanta. In the Northeast, the northern New Jersey megalopolis and Philadelphia are on the list. Midwest markets include Detroit, Cleveland and Indianapolis. Southern cities also include Nashville, Tenn., and Charlotte, N.C. Washington is largely steering clear of states that are leading their own sign-up efforts, such as California, New York and Illinois.
Medicaid Patients Struggle to Move out of Nursing Homes
Medicaid’s “Money Follows the Person” program is designed to get beneficiaries out of nursing homes and back into communities, but six years into the program, less than one percent of nursing home residents have successfully transitioned. Read the story
Why has the program struggled so much? The main reason may be the lack of accessible, affordable housing. It seems obvious, but you can’t expect people to return to their communities if they have nowhere to live. This is a particular problem with seniors, who may have sold their homes to pay to get into a nursing home in the first place, or may have moved because they could no longer safely live in their old house.
Medical Identity Theft Affects Millions
An estimated 1.84 million Americans were victims of medical identity theft in 2013, with thieves making false claims against a victim’s medical policy or, in some cases, medical office workers billing Medicare and Medicaid for services never provided or needed. Read the story
Full-Time Workforce Expected to be Slashed Due to Affordable Care Act
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the full-time workforce could lose about two million people by 2024, as a result of the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act, which stipulates that employers with at least 50 full-time employees must provide health insurance that meets certain requirements. Read the story
Opinions expressed in any of the included stories or their publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Kindred Healthcare and this blog post is a compilation of news stories from other sources that have appeared during the past week.
Looking for a good read? Forget about asking for recommendations on Facebook; if you’re a woman, pick up The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women, published by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, says Kindred nurse practitioner Claire Spence. Spence, a transitional care nurse in Kindred’s Indianapolis Integrated Care Market, has a special interest in matters of the heart and especially in helping women keep their hearts healthy.
“Every woman should read this book,” Spence says. It educates about risk factors and signs and symptoms of a problem, and includes vignettes about real women in a highly readable format, she says, and it includes life style modification recommendations including tips for losing weight, exercising, smoking cessation and getting healthier.
There are several prevalent misconceptions about heart disease in women, Spence says. How much do you know? Take the following short quiz.
A heart attack is heralded by crushing chest pain.
Not Always. “There are many different symptoms you can experience when your heart is not getting enough blood,” Spence says. Others include back pain and shortness of breath. In fact, she says, “anything that doesn’t feel right from your hips to your earlobes, especially that comes on with exertion, needs to be looked at by the doctor.”
Breast cancer is the biggest killer of women.
False. Says Spence: “One in four women will die from heart disease and one in 30 die from breast cancer. Many high-profile organizations have done a great job of raising awareness about breast cancer, but not everyone knows that women need to be very vigilant about heart disease, understand their risk factors and be aware of symptoms.”
Men are more likely to die from heart disease than women.
False. Women account for more than half of all deaths from heart disease annually.
If you are a woman under 50, you’re more likely to survive a heart attack.
False. Under age 50, women’s heart attacks are twice as likely to be fatal as men’s.
For more information about heart disease, visit The Heart Foundation.