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Let's Talk About the Heart

Let’s Talk About The Heart

A heart (haart) disease (duh-zeez) is any illness that affects the functioning of the heart (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021)

With February being Heart (haart) Disease (duh-zeez) awareness month, it is important to understand what causes heart (haart) diseases (duh-zee-zuhz) in children and the most common types of pediatric (pee-dee-a-truhk) heart (haart) diseases (duh-zee-zuhz).

The most common type of heart (haart) disease (duh-zeez) that affects children is a congenital (kuhn-jeh-nuh-tl) heart (haart) defect (dee-fekt). A heart (haart) defect (di-fekt) refers to a problem in the formation of a person’s heart and the person is born with it (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018). When a heart (haart) defect (di-fekt) is called congenital (kuhn-jeh-nuh-tl), this means that the problem with the formation of a person’s heart occurred when the person was born (Nemours, KidsHealth, 2018).

Formation Of The Heart

In order to understand pediatric (pee-dee-a-truhk) heart (haart) diseases (duh-zee-zuhz) better, it is helpful to understand how the heart works and the different parts of the heart.

Your heart’s main job is to bring blood throughout your body so that your cells can get oxygen (aak-suh-jn), a clear element in your body, to help your cells and to help you live (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018)

The heart is part of the circulatory (sur-kyuh-luh-taw-ree) system (si-stm) which is made of up different types of blood (bluhd) vessels (veh-slz) that brings blood away and to your heart (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018). Your circulatory (sur-kyuh-luh-taw-ree) system’s (si-stm) job is to also bring oxygen to your cells and to get rid of products that your body does not needs (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018).

Two main types of blood (bluhd) vessels (veh-slz) are arteries (aar-tr-eez) and veins (vaynz). Arteries (aar-tr-eez) bring blood away from your heart and veins (vaynz) bring blood to your heart (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018).

Parts Of The Heart

“Inside a Healthy Heart.” Heart and Circulatory System, Nemours KidsHealth, Sep. 2018,

The heart has four different chambers (chaym-brz) or pockets, and there are two on the bottom and two on the top (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018). You can think of your heart as a pizza pie, and there are four different parts that make it complete.

The bottom chambers (chaym-brz) are called the right and left ventricles (ven-truh-klz) and their job is to push blood out of the heart and into the rest of the body (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018). The top chambers (chaym-brz) are called the right and left atriums (ay-tree-uhms) and their job is to collect the blood that is coming into the heart (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018). In between the top chambers and the bottom chambers is a septum (sep-tum) or a wall, to separate them (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018).

There are two different routes that the blood follows from your heart to the rest of your body (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018). The first one is called pulmonary (puhl-muh-neh-ree) circulation (sur-kyuh-lay-shn) which involves blood going from your heart to your lungs and then back to your heart (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018). The second route is called systemic (suh-steh-muhk) circulation (sur-kyuh-lay-shn) which involves blood going to all the other parts of your body, except for your lungs, and then back to your heart (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018).

Types Of Congenital Heart Defects In Children

There are many different types of congenital (kuhn-jeh-nuh-tl) heart (haart) defects (dee-fekts) that affect children. One of the most common types is an atrial (ay-tree-uhl) septal (sep-tuhl) defect (dee-fekt).

An atrial (ay-tree-uhl) septal (sep-tuhl) defect (dee-fekt) is when there is a hole, or an opening, in the wall between the top chambers (chaym-brz) or atriums (ay-tree-uhms) of the heart. Due to the hole in the wall, some of the oxygenated blood from the left atrium (ay-tree-uhm) moves through the hole and into right atrium (ay-tree-uhm), where it mixes with oxygen-poor blood and raises the amount of blood that pushes to the lungs (Nemours KidsHealth, 2021).

“Atrial Septal Defect (ASD).” Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), Nemours KidsHealth, Nov. 2021,

Children who have an atrial (ay-tree-uhl) septal (sep-tuhl) defect (dee-fekt) often have poor growth, get very tired, have shortness of breath, have lung infections, and have poor appetite (Nemours KidsHealth, 2021).

One way that doctors fix an atrial (ay-tree-uhl) septal (sep-tuhl) defect (dee-fekt) is by cardiac (kaar-dee-ak)

catheterization (ka-thuh-tr-uh-zay-shn) (Nemours KidsHealth, 2021). This when a catheter (ka-thuh-tr), or a thin and flexible tube is inserted into a blood (bluhd) vessel (veh-sl) in the leg that leads to the heart. The tube measures how the blood is flowing, the pressure, and levels of the oxygen in the chambers (chaym-brz) of the heart (Nemours KidsHealth, 2018).

Then a piece is put into the hole that becomes flat against the septum (sep-tum) and permanently closes the hole (Nemours KidsHealth, 2021).

Another way that doctors fix an atrial (ay-tree-uhl) septal (sep-tuhl) defect (dee-fekt) is by doing heart (haart) surgery (sur-jr-ee) to sew the hole closed (Nemours KidsHealth, 2021).

Making Sure Your Heart Is Healthy

After learning about pediatric (pee-dee-a-truhk) heart (haart) diseases (duh-zee-zuhz), it is important to continually go to see your doctor to monitor the safety and health of your heart and to make sure that everything is doing the job it is supposed to do to help your body.

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