Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Congenital Heart Defect Month

 You may or may not be aware but February is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness month. This is a special cause that is close to my heart, due to my own congenital Heart Defect - which I will share with you all on Saturday. Yep that's right, I'm a member of the "zipper" club.
 But first, here are some statistics that you might not be aware of;
  • Eight babies are born with a heart defect in Australia every day. That is almost 3,000 every year!
  • Childhood heart disease is one of the biggest killers of children under the age of one.
  • Approx half of children diagnosed with heart disease require surgery to correct the defect.
  • Each week more than 4 Australians pass away as a result of a congenital heart defect.
  • It is estimated that 32,000 children (under 18 years of age) are currently living with CHD in Australia.
  • Some children acquire heart conditions during childhood, e.g. cardiomyopathy, Kawasaki disease or as a result of rheumatic fever.
  • Every day, 8 Aussie kids are born with childhood heart disease.

What is life actually like for someone with a Congenital Heart Defect?

Contrary to what many believe, after our surgeries where our hearts are "fixed", it is far from being cured. Most of the time, its like we are everyone else, but throw extreme heat or cold, exercise or lack of sleep into the mix and we can become lethargic, exhausted and breathless. I can't speak for everyone, 'm sure, but those are just some of the things that I experience on a day to day basis.

 Here is an description I found on a website, which I feel most CHD individuals would agree with;

It is estimated that more than two million individuals in the United States are living with a CHD. Many people with a CHD lead independent lives with little or no difficulty. Others might develop disability over time. Some people with a CHD have genetic problems or other health conditions that increase their risk for disability.
Even with improved treatments, many people with a CHD are not cured, even if their heart defect has been repaired. People with a CHD can develop other health problems over time, depending on their specific heart defect, the number of heart defects they have, and the severity of their heart defect. People with a CHD need routine checkups with a cardiologist (heart doctor) to stay as healthy as possible. They also might need further operations after initial childhood surgeries. It is important for people with a CHD to visit their doctor on a regular basis and discuss their health, including their specific heart condition, with their doctor. (source)

 So while you might be caught up in Valentines day festivities this month, don't forget those of us out there who have hearts a little different to yours.