Dr. Soumya Patra


M.B.B.S, M.D. (Pediatrics), D.M. (Cardiology),
FACC(USA), FSCAI(USA),
FICC, FESC, FRCP (Glasgow), FRCP (London) Gold Medalist
Governing Body Member of Indian College of Cardiology 2020-2022

Medica Superspecialty Hospital Kolkata

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+91 94324 85330

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+91 98363 70453

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+91 98312 74230

Frequently Asked Questions

Q - How common are Congenital Heart Problems?

Abnormalities of the heart are present in nearly 10 in every 1,000 babies born. Some of these are mild and cause no significant disturbance to heart function. In many cases, such minor problems need no treatment and do not affect the life or the health of the child. More serious abnormalities are present in about five of these ten individuals with congenital heart problems.

The total frequency of all birth defects affecting different parts of the body is quite high. Some abnormality occurs in about 25 in every 1,000 babies born. This, however, includes many minor abnormalities.



Q - Why do congenital Heart Problems Occur?

In most cases the cause of the heart abnormality is unknown. By the end of the 7th week of pregnancy the heart is fully formed. It changes little in its basic structure until birth when the circulation of the blood alters as the lungs start to function. Major abnormalities in development of the heart must therefore occur early in pregnancy.

Parents will naturally worry about things which might have affected the formation of their child's heart. In most cases the heart abnormality is only an unfortunate occurrence which has not resulted from any identifiable cause. However, in some cases there are genetic errors which are responsible for the problem. If this is at all likely you may be offered a consultation with a geneticist.

Some illnesses in a pregnant mother may result in abnormalities in her baby's heart and vessels. One example is German measles (rubella), if contracted early in the pregnancy. Occasionally medications or alcohol taken during the pregnancy can cause problems - though small quantities of alcohol are not likely to cause harm. Many medications, which are needed during pregnancy for a wide variety of reasons and are prescribed by a doctor, do not lead to any damage to the baby. Smoking is certainly very undesirable during pregnancy, as it has adverse effects on growth of the baby and is associated with an increased rate of premature birth and stillbirth. However, there is no evidence linking smoking with heart problems in babies.



Q - What is High Blood Pressure (BP) and how is it treated?

High blood pressure results from the tightening of very small arteries. It can be controlled by low salt diet, regular exercise, stress management, weight control. Your doctor will prescribe some medications if your BP is not controlled by the above measures.



Q - What are the major risk factors for Heart Disease?

The major risk factors for heart disease are smoking, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, lack of exercise,, obesity, diabetes, old age, male gender, and heredity (family history of heart disease),post menopause incise of women.



Q - Can there be complications from Heart Surgery?

Complications from surgery may arise, but with improvements in technology, in surgical procedures and with more surgery being performed at a younger age, the risk of complications is continually being reduced.

The possible complications are related to the specific type of surgery being performed and they vary widely depending on the nature of the problem which requires surgery.

Your child's cardiologist and cardiac surgeon will discuss this subject with you prior to surgery.



Q - How are smoking and Heart Disease linked?

Smoking damages the lining of blood vessels, increases fatty deposits in the arteries, increases blood clotting, adversely affects blood lipid levels, and promotes coronary artery spasm. Nicotine accelerates the heart rate and raises blood pressure.



Q - Can a child acquire a heart problem?

While most children with a heart problem are born with it (congenital), there are some problems which may develop later (acquired).

Acquired heart problems include myocarditis (where the heart muscle becomes inflamed and may be damaged by a viral infection), cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle which can be caused by a genetic disorder or can develop following an infection), rheumatic heart disease (resulting from rheumatic fever which may lead to damage to the heart muscle and in particular to the heart valves), and Kawasaki disease (an illness that occurs in young children that may leave the heart muscle or coronary arteries damaged).



Q - What are the complications that can occur after a Heart Surgery?

Possible complications:
• Stroke (less than 3%)
• Heart attack during or after surgery
• Closure of new bypass grafts
• Bleeding from the tissues inside the chest
• Infection at incision sites, newly placed artificial valves, or urinary bladder. Therefore, we use antibiotics before and after surgery.
• Irregularities of the heart beat
• Lung or kidney problems, especially if there is history of disease in these areas.



Q - How long should a Pacemaker last?

Pacemaker batteries usually do not stop suddenly. One of the purposes of your follow up care is to monitor the battery status. Your pacemaker will give ample warning that the battery is reaching depletion. At this time your doctor will schedule a replacement procedure.

In general pacemakers last anywhere between 2 to 10 years. Pacemaker longevity depends upon how hard the battery inside the pulse generator has to work. This in turn is affected by how much energy is required to pace your heart and how the system is programmed for your needs.



Q - Can I Exercise With A Pacemaker?

Upon consulting your physician, you may be able to enjoy moderate exercise with your pacemaker or ICD, including housework and yard work.



Q - Can there be complications from Heart Surgery?

Complications from surgery may arise, but with improvements in technology, in surgical procedures and with more surgery being performed at a younger age, the risk of complications is continually being reduced.

The possible complications are related to the specific type of surgery being performed and they vary widely depending on the nature of the problem which requires surgery. Your child's cardiologist and cardiac surgeon will discuss this subject with you prior to surgery.