The major function of your heart is to pump blood through the rest of your body. This blood supplies nutrients and oxygen to your body. If your heart does not work appropriately, it may not be efficient in pumping blood to other organs. This has an effect on the amount of oxygen reaching to other bodily tissues. Occasionally, there are defects or problems with the heart when a person is born. These defects are called congenital heart defects.
Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is a congenital heart defect that can be fatal if it is not untreated. It’s also referred to as “tet.” The “tetra” the name of the condition comes from the four problems associated with it. The condition is named after Dr. Etienne Fallot.
A narrow pulmonary outflow tract, which binds the heart with the lungs
A thickened right ventricle
An aorta that has a shifted orientation and stays over the VSD
A hole between the right and left ventricles, which is also referred to as a ventricular septal defect (VSD)
The condition leads to cyanosis. This implies that it causes the skin to have a bluish hue due to the lack of circulating oxygen. Usually, oxygenated blood gives the skin its pinkish hue.
TOF is rare, but it’s the mainly common cyanotic congenital heart disease.
The symptoms of TOF may be present at birth or soon afterward. They include:
A bluish skin color
Problems with eating
Failure to gain weight
Developmental delays or problems
Episodes of passing out
The precise cause of TOF is unknown, but several risk factors have been related with the condition.
Poor prenatal diet
Maternal age that’s over 40
People with TOF sometimes have other congenital disorders such as Down syndrome.
Often, a doctor will diagnose TOF while the baby is still in the mother’s uterus when a fetal ultrasound shows a heart abnormality. Your doctor can also diagnose it soon after birth if they hear a murmur throughout a heart exam or if the baby’s skin color is bluish.
People most frequently receive a diagnosis in infancy, but if the defects aren’t severe, the symptoms might also be minimal. This can delay diagnosis. Other times, the diagnosis comes later, such as when a parent notices something unusual or during a regular visit to the pediatrician.
An echocardiogram to check for disruptions in heartbeats
A heart MRI to check for structural problems
A chest X-ray to check for structural abnormalities
A pulse oximetry check to measure the oxygen level in the blood
A cardiac catheterization
Treatment of TOF needs surgery. This generally occurs within the first few months of life. The surgical procedure includes closing the VSD and enlarging the pulmonary valve. If TOF not treated, it can cause problems with heart rhythms, developmental delays, and seizures. If the condition is by no means fixed, which is rare, it generally causes death by the age of 20. Usually, a doctor will notice the condition early on and do surgery to correct the problem.
After having surgery for TOF, the person will have to see a cardiologist for their entire life. A cardiologist will carry out regular follow-up examinations and consult with the person’s primary care doctor on any medications or health issues that are present. Some people who have surgery for TOF develop heart issues as time goes on, which makes consistent and continuous care necessary.
Sometimes people with TOF need some restrictions on their exercise. Discuss with your doctor about whether this is necessary. If you want to be physically active, inquire from your doctor what would be a safe activity for you.
Take any medicine your doctor prescribes as necessary. If you start to take any other medications or supplements, let your doctor be aware so you can avoid any adverse interactions or effects.
You can still lead a normal and productive life if you have Tetralogy of Fallot. Seeing your doctor frequently will help catch any problems before they become serious and make sure you are staying healthy.
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