Experts emphasise importance of awareness and early detection

AWARENESS of congenital heart disease (CHD) needs to be more widespread among the public and even in the medical profession, stressed two IJN experts.

Dr Hasri Samion, senior consul­tant and Head Of Paediatric & Con­ge­nital Heart Centre (PCHC) at IJN, noted: “An important part of public awareness is where parents can find the necessary support to help their children with congenital heart disease, from the centres with the expertise for treatment and even possible fi­­nan­cial help.

“Congenital heart disease is different from adult heart disease. For a child born with heart disease, it is potentially correctable. We do the correction, it’s treated. In adults, the disease might resurface because it’s an acquired, lifestyle disease.”

For Consultant Paediatric Cardio­lo­­gist Dr Marhisham Che Mood, awareness is key to addressing the problem.

“It is important to detect it early; if you leave it, the problem becomes more serious later, and sometimes, it may be too late to fix it.

“We need to create the awareness to recognise the symptoms and signs of CHD – poor growth, blue baby – and we also need to educate the medical profession about the importance of early detection,” said Dr Marhisham.

“We have the ability to detect in the womb, especially if there are risk factors, such as a pregnant diabetic and previous child with congenital heart disease. This group of mothers will benefit the most.”

According to Dr Marhisham, PCHC has formed a support group, Nadi PCHC, which consists of medical staff, parents of children with CHD and patients.

Dr Hasri said when you tell a mo­­ther that her baby has something wrong with the heart, the worry can be crippling.

“If we make an early diagnosis, at least there’s a direction, a plan of ac­­tion, rather than having the pa­­rents live in uncertainty.

“The worse thing for parents is not knowing what’s the problem. And, when they get the diagnosis, parents will worry about the outcome and also about the cost of treatment. We try to answer all these questions, even the financial ones,” he added.

According to Dr Hasri, the cost of the first visit to PCHC is not much; it’s the cost of the procedure that may be problematic.

“Get your diagnosis first, then explore your options,” he advised.