Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)
A hole in the heart, technically known as VSD, is a kind of Congenital Heart Disease (CHD). There is an abnormal opening in the wall between the ventricles, the focal blood pumping chambers, of the heart. VSDs are the most common form of CHD and can vary in size.
Elaborating further on VSD, some of the blood in the left ventricle flows into the right ventricle. This happens through the hole in the septum, the shared wall between the two ventricles. Whereas the blood in the left ventricle is enriched by oxygen from the lungs, the blood in the right ventricle is oxygen-poor. When these two mix, an additional noise called a heart murmur, is created. Doctors use a stethoscope to detect these murmurs.
VSDs occur while the heart is developing in the fetus, subsequently being present at birth. VSDs usually do not have a distinct cause. However, there can be an increased tendency to develop VSDs due to genetic factors that adversely affect chromosomes. The signs and symptoms of VSDs depend on the size and exact location of the hole. Smaller VSDs mostly do not cause any symptoms and might heal without any intervention. Larger VSDs can cause more significant symptoms such as faster breathing, lethargy, excessive sweating etc.
Detection of VSDs is done through procedures such as chest X-rays, an electrocardiogram (EKG), a record of the heart’s electrical activity, or cardiac catheterization, a method that provides information about the heart’s structure, blood pressure etc. Of these three methods, EKGs are the most common detection tool.
Stats & Facts
CHDs are the most common type of birth disease, affecting nearly 1% of births per year. The prevalence is around 60 times more than childhood cancer, with the prevalence of some forms of CHD increasing with time. They are also the leading cause of infant illnesses and deaths that are associated with birth defects.
According to current research by the Pakistan Pediatric Cardiac Society, more than 50,000 children in Pakistan are born with CHDs annually. Despite this tremendously high figure, there are less than 4000 pediatric cardiac surgeries being done annually, with less than 50 pediatric cardiologists and cardiac surgeons in Pakistan.
Pakistan Children’s Heart Foundation (PCHF)
Since 2011, PCHF has been working tirelessly in order to achieve our main objective of establishing a state-of-the-art medical facility that provides the highest quality of care for children with CHD, irrespective of their financial means. This is known as Project CHHRI, Pakistan’s first dedicated Children’s Heart Hospital and Research Institute. Legendary Pakistan National Cricket Team captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, is the brand ambassador of this project. It will be located within the premises of the University of Lahore.
Another one of the main aims of PCHF is Project Danial, which is to help improve the local pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery infrastructure in Pakistan. In order to achieve this objective, PCHF organizes capacity building workshops in collaboration with institutions in Pakistan where CHD treatment currently takes place. These workshops give local healthcare professionals the opportunity to work alongside renowned international doctors and improve their technical abilities. In September 2019, PCHF invited a team of senior doctors from Sidra Medical Centre, Qatar to an Interventional Cardiology Workshop in Multan. It was held over 3 days and both major pediatric cardiology institutions in Multan, CPEIC and Children’s Hospital, were involved.
As of 31st December 2020, along with the immense help of partner hospitals and organizations, we have also successfully provided financial and medical support to 2221 children and their families at a total cost of 808 million PKR. This is called Project Mohsin. It includes free of cost treatment and outpatient department (OPD) services. The recovery rate of children with CHD treated through the PCHF is around 95%. PCHF is steadfast in the journey to raise awareness of CHD and some of the efforts include international tours and events with Misbah-ul-Haq, talk show segments on popular television channels, fundraising events such as Polo for Peace and active social media campaigns. Do remember us, and more importantly the children with CHD, in your prayers, as they vitally require your commitment to the cause.