Tetralogy of Fallot is a disease caused by a combination of four different heart defects. It is a congenital disease and a rare one. The heart defect prevents oxygen from flowing out of the heart and to other parts of the body. Many people who suffer from this disease have blue-tinged skin because their blood does not contain enough oxygen. It can be treated, and most people with the disease go on to live normal lives.
There are certain things that can make a person more likely to be born with tetralogy of Fallot. While these risk factors may increase the risk, they do not necessarily cause the disease. Some risk factors apply to a pregnant mother, and others apply directly to the patient. These risk factors include:
• A viral illness during pregnancy
• Alcoholism during pregnancy
• Poor nutrition during pregnancy
• A mother older than age 40
• A parent who has tetralogy of Fallot
• The presence of Down syndrome
• The presence of DiGeorge syndrome
Tetralogy of Fallot occurs when the heart is still forming in the womb and is often caused by a mutation. In many cases, the cause of the disease is due to problems during pregnancy or things a pregnant woman is exposed to during her pregnancy. There are certain things that can cause the disease, including:
The symptoms of tetralogy of Fallot depend on the severity of the obstruction. Some people may have little or no symptoms while others may experience severe symptoms. Most people exhibit symptoms at birth or as babies, which helps lead to an early diagnosis. Common symptoms of the disease include:
If a baby is born with blue-tinged skin or a heart murmur, doctors may want to perform further tests to either rule out of confirming tetralogy of Fallot. Doctors use a variety of different tests to help them diagnose the disease and also determine the severity of it. Some of the most common diagnostic tests include:
Surgery is the only successful treatment for tetralogy of Fallot. There are several different types of surgery that can correct the problem. Doctors choose the right surgery based on the patient’s age and overall health. The most common treatments include:
The prognosis for someone with the disease is good as long as it is diagnosed and treated early. If left untreated, patients can experience severe symptoms and complication. It can also weaken the heart over time and put a strain on other organs. Once a patient has had surgery, he or she will still need lifelong treatment and care from a cardiologist trained in treating congenital heart disease. Many patients will need to consult with the pulmonologist before they play sports and participate in physical activity.
Complications are common for people who have a delayed diagnosis or who do not get the proper treatment. Not everyone with tetralogy of Fallow will suffer these complications, but they are at risk for them. Some of the most common complications include: