If you or anyone else you know needs a new heart, don't bother asking for mine because I don't have a heart. Well, I'm actually close to not having a functioning heart. It's okay if you say I'm a heartless person. It's fun to say to that. Poor me, my heart is not working as well as I thought it would. I was hoping the doctors would successfully have me get my endurance back after they performed an open-heart surgery in 2003 due to my tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital disease. My optimized stamina before the surgery wasn't good, but it was much better than my current condition.

The magic term for my condition is tetralogy of Fallot. That's the medical term to describe the way my heart was functioning. As I was developing as a newborn baby, a malfunction was occurring as my fetal heart separated into the chambers, valves, and other structures that make a heart normal. Cardiologists still don't have explanations of why it happens. I came across a statistic that 1 of every 175 babies is born with a congenital heart disease. That ratio is higher than babies born with spina bifida.

I remember while reading my medical records that I was taken to a medical facility because I was bluish when I was only months. I've always think about babies turning blue, and wonder how did most of the parents responded. Most babies with tetralogy of Fallot develop cyanosis before they reach one-years-old. Cyanosis involves dusky bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes cause by a lack of oxygen in the blood system. There's no need to worry infants about turning blue if either the pulmonary stenosis is mild or the ventricular septal defect (VSD) is small.

When I was growing up, I wasn't athletic because I easily get tire when doing some physical activity. Thus, I would stop it and rest. I didn't know my fatigue issue was related to my heart. Now I know why my heart couldn't handle the pressure like so many others of people. Before I had an open-heart surgery when I was only 11-years-old (October 1985), my doctor said I needed to have the surgery in order to grow physically. That's how severe my case was. I was a small child one time, and then I grew. Thank God because I don't want to be as short as some other people. Tetralogy of Fallot could also delay puberty if it goes untreated. Assuming in a squatting position frequently to take a short break is a sign that a toddler, who is beginning to walk, has the condition. Such children would quickly return to walking, or to another type of physical activity.

Whenever a child who is receiving medical attention stopped having all symptoms of tetralogy of Fallot, a heart problem is always suspected. Thus, any of the following medical tests will be done to figure out the cause of cyanosis: cardiac catheterization, chest x-ray, echocardiography, electrocardiogram, and lab tests.

It is a necessity that smaller infants (heart babies) be operated on so they could be allowed to have a surgical repair for total correction when they grow bigger. The operation is called Blalock-Taussig shunt, which involves connecting one major artery (usually the right subclavian artery) leaving the heart to the right pulmonary artery leading to give the blood a second chance at oxygenation. The complete surgery, which is not a risky procedure, involves placing a patch to cover a hole in the ventricular septum. I was told my hole was the size of a dime. The second part of the long surgery is to open up the obstruction to the right ventricular outflow so the blood could go to the lungs blood flow to the lungs before going out into the body.

After a child has a success open-heart surgery, they usually lead normal lives. I didn't and still don't have any restrictions to follow. Now I just found there are some long-term complications to my condition. I noticed on my more recent echocardiogram reports, there are comments about regurgitation. I apparently have right ventricular failure, which is blood moving back to the right ventricle from the pulmonary artery. I am supposed to take antibiotics one hour before any dental procedures to avoid any bacterial infections on my heart. It is a precaution to avoid getting ventricular tachycardia (VT), which is a life-threatening arrhythmia. Another thing I just found about is residual hole in the ventricular septum. It is made possible with "oxygenated blood passing from the left side of the heart to the right (shunting)."1 The last complication is the most frightening one. "Every patient with tetralogy of Fallot has right bundle branch block secondary to the congenital ventricular septal defect (VSD)."2 Sewing a patch into the ventricular septum can create electrical conduction abnormalities. A permanent pacemaker may be needed to assist the upper atria to communicate/conduct with the lower ventricles.

It is important that I tell people about my congenital heart condition, tetralogy of Fallot so I won't be so shy about it. Furthermore, I'm sure I'll get pity from others. I was very fortunate to not have any problems later in life after experiencing some chest pains when I was in high school. I didn't know any better to go call a cardiologist to check up on my heart. At that point, I decided to stop drinking soda to practice more healthy habits. It is strange that I felt it worked. I also felt the need to cease drinking soda when some of my teeth would bleed when I brush them. Earlier this year, I've experience blackouts for minutes and dizziness for the first time in my life.

If you want more valuable information on any heart disease:

American Heart Association
National Center
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX 75231
800 - 242 - 8721


Citations:

1,2 Zeballos, MD, Alvaro. Tetralogy of 4 7 2010. 4 7 2010 emedicinehealth.com/tetralogy_of_fallot/article_em.htm

References:

Greenburg, MD, S Bruce. Tetralogy of Fallot: eMedicine Radiology. 1 3 2010. 1 7 2010 emedicine.medscape.com/article/350898-overview

none. Blalock-Taussig operation definition - Medical Dictionary definitions of popular medical terms easily defined on MedTerms. 25 6 2000. 4 7 2010 medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=6560 

Zeballos, MD, Alvaro. Tetralogy of Fallot. 4 7 2010. 4 7 2010 emedicinehealth.com/tetralogy_of_fallot/article_em.htm