The American Heart Association is committed to advancing public policies that will allow children and adults with heart defects to live longer and fuller lives.
In North Dakota, we are working toward the state adoption of mandatory Critical Congenital Heart Defects screening using pulse oximetry for all newborns.
Critical Congenital Heart Defects (CCHD) are malformations of the heart or major blood vessels that occur before birth.
In many cases, however, hospital staff may not identify these defects and outwardly healthy infants may be admitted to nurseries and discharged from hospitals before signs of the disease are detected. Occurring in 8 out of 1,000 live births, congenital heart defects account for 24% of infant deaths that are caused by birth defects. A quarter of infants who have congenital heart defects will be diagnosed with critical congenital heart disease (CCHD), a life threatening condition that requires surgery or catheter intervention within the first year of life. Failure to detect CCHD and late detection of CCHD may lead to serious morbidity or death.
Fortunately, an emerging body of evidence suggests that measuring blood oxygen saturation can lead to early diagnosis and detection of CCHD. Once detected, many heart defects can be surgically repaired. It is estimated that 85% of neonates who undergo surgery for CCHD will reach adulthood.
For more information on this issue and other heart-related issues in North Dakota, visit www.yourethecure.org and sign up to be an American Heart Association advocate.