Congenital Heart Defect is a problem in the structure of the heart that is present at birth. Statistics shows 8 in every 1000 new-borns suffer from congenital heart defect. Estimated with the birth rate of Hong Kong, there are 600 new congenital heart defect cases each year locally.
Congenital heart defects are divided into two main groups: non-cyanotic heart defects and cyanotic heart defects. The first group of defects includes atrial or ventricular septal defects, patent ductus arteriosus, coarctation of the aorta, aortic or pulmonic stenosis. The second group include tetralogy of Fallot, pulmonary atresia, transposition of the great vessels, single ventricle defects, and anomalous pulmonary venous return.
Amongst the many congenital heart defects, atrial and ventricular septal defects are most common. Septal defects are "holes" in the wall of the atria or ventricle that allows blood to flow through and enter the lungs.
Common symptoms of septal defect patients include poor physical tolerance, asthma, swelling in the ankles or feet, purplish colouration around the lips after exercise, and signs of hypoxia. Some people may suffer from heart failure or heart arrhythmia early on in life, but discovered to be septal defects after examinations. However, most cases are revealed accidentally, such as detecting cardiac murmurs or heartbeat irregularities during a body check. It might lead to complications such as pulmonary arterial hypertension and recurring lung infections, and even worse conditions like palpitation, cardiac arrhythmia, heart attack and heart failure.
Septal defects are birth defects, and their symptoms may not be noticeable early on. Some septal defect patients may suffer from a small "hole" or leak, showing no visible symptoms, and the leak is sealed as the patient matures, thus not detecting the condition at all. Symptoms could also surface when a patient reaches puberty or adulthood. Due to the congenital nature of septal defects, contracting the disease is genetical and non-preventable. The only solution is for the mother to reduce high-risk factors that may cause the disease during pregnancy, such as staying sober, avoid incautious medication and amphetamine; early vaccination is also recommended. Furthermore, if the mother suffers from congenital heart defects, a cardiologist should be consulted before undergoing pregnancy to understand if the well being of both mother and child will be affected. Examinations should be done during pregnancy to check for anomalies in chromosomes, as to determine the infant's chances of suffering from septal defects.
Critical illness insurances that cover congenital defects are available in the market. The insured will be covered if no signs and symptoms are discovered before issuing the policy and within the first 90 days of issuing the policy, and the condition develops into a covered disease. Click the link below to know more!
For terms and conditions and the full list of exclusions, please refer to product brochure and policy provisions.
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