Great strides being made in heart health

February is Heart Month

Finn Moore had heart surgery at 5 months

 

By Sue Graci

THIS is Heart and Stroke Month, a time when it is important to promote awareness of the various illnesses, diseases and conditions that can impact people’s heart health.

And, also, it is a time to increase awareness of all that can be done. Because there have been great strides in this area of medicine. It is no longer a death sentence to suffer a stroke, or a heart attack, or to be born with a congenital heart defect (known as CHD).

The Maple Leaf spoke to Katie Moore recently about the experience she has had with CHD. A Port Dover native (you may remember her from Texture Hair Concepts!), Katie is currently living in Burlington with her husband Andrew and their two sons, Henry, 2 and a half, and Finn, 9 months.

Finn was born with a heart defect and four months ago underwent open heart surgery to correct the flaw. The doctors at Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto worked a modern-day miracle.

CHD encompasses a variety of conditions that affects either the heart wall, valves or chambers or some combination. It can be a mild condition that requires nothing more than monitoring. Or it can be a life-threatening condition that needs corrective surgery.



Finn was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a complicated condition in which four heart defects alter the blood flow through the heart and to the lungs.

He required open heart surgery at the age of five months. The surgery was “to patch the VSD (hole between the bottom two chambers), widen the pulmonary artery and repair the pulmonary valve,” explains Katie.

“He had a heart murmur at birth that remained after four days and was referred to a pediatric cardiologist by the midwife.” His diagnosis was made when he was 9 days old.

According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, with today’s medical advances, nine out of 10 children born with CHD will survive to adulthood. That is a very promising statistic!

There are two main types of congenital heart defects. One occurs when a baby is born with a hole in its heart. The hole is usually in the wall that separates the chambers of the heart and allows blood to leak into the chambers rather than flowing into the rest of the body, resulting in an enlarged heart.

The second is when blood flow is restricted as the result of narrowed or constricted veins, arteries, or valves. There are many types of each of these main categories of CHD, with varying degrees of severity.

Some typical symptoms of CHD are rapid or irregular heartbeat, fast breathing, a bluish tinge to the skin, or a heart murmur, such as Finn had. These are often observed during the regular examination after a baby is born or through ultrasounds while the mother is carrying the child. There are medications that can help with CHD but in severe cases, surgery may be required.

In Finn’s case surgery was required. He was in the hospital for six days, undergoing a seven-hour surgery to correct the defects. Because of the pandemic, both parents were not able to attend Finn’s appointments together.

“Not only were we processing our tiny baby’s diagnosis, we were only allowed one parent to take him and had to call each other in (order) to hear what the doctor had to say. My husband, Andrew, took Finn to the first appointment where he was diagnosed, and I heard the news via FaceTime. I took Finn to SickKids two days later while Andrew and our toddler Henry waited four hours in the basement parking garage,” says Katie.

Finn is now a happy, healthy 9-month-old.

According to Katie, he is doing “amazing! Unless you saw his scar, you’d never know anything happened.”

And his prognosis is excellent, with only the “possibility that he will need his pulmonary valve replaced when he’s around 20 years old,” she adds.

Information on heart conditions and heart health can be found at The Heart & Stroke Foundation at www.heartandstroke.ca.

 

Originally published February 24, 2021

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