Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a rare heart defect. In a normal heart, the blood flows in from the body to the right atrium. It then goes into the right ventricle. Next, the blood travels to the lungs through the pulmonary valve. Here, it picks up fresh oxygen. The blood returns to the left atrium and goes into the left ventricle. The blood then moves out to the rest of the body. With this syndrome, structures on the left side of the heart, which includes the aorta, aortic valve, left ventricle, and mitral valve, may be: Since the heart cannot function properly, oxygen-rich blood flow to the body is limited. This condition requires immediate care from a doctor.

  • Causes

    This is a congenital heart defect. This means that the heart forms incorrectly when the baby develops in the womb. The baby is born with the condition. It is not known why the heart forms this way.

  • Definition

    Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a rare heart defect. In a normal heart, the blood flows in from the body to the right atrium. It then goes into the right ventricle. Next, the blood travels to the lungs through the pulmonary valve. Here, it picks up fresh oxygen. The blood returns to the left atrium and goes into the left ventricle. The blood then moves out to the rest of the body.

    With this syndrome, structures on the left side of the heart, which includes the aorta, aortic valve, left ventricle, and mitral valve, may be:

    • Too small
    • Absent
    • Abnormally developed

    Since the heart cannot function properly, oxygen-rich blood flow to the body is limited. This condition requires immediate care from a doctor.

    Heart Chambers and Valves
    heart anatomy
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    Blood Flow Through the Heart
    IMAGE
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your child's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Images may be taken of your child's chest. This can be done with:

    • Echocardiogram
    • X-ray
    • MRI scan
    • CT scan

    Other tests may be done to evaluate your child's heart. This can be done with:

    • Electrocardiogram
      (ECG, EKG)
    • Cardiac catheterization

  • Prevention

    There is no way to prevent this condition. Getting proper prenatal care is always important.

  • Risk Factors

    These factors increase your chance of having a child with hypoplastic left heart syndrome:

    • Previous pregnancy with fetal heart abnormalities or fetal loss
    • Family history of congenital heart defect

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms usually appear within days after birth. Tell the doctor if you notice the following in your infant or child:

    • Blue/gray skin color
    • Cool skin
    • Rapid or difficult breathing
    • High heart rate
    • Sweaty, clammy skin
    • Poor feeding

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Some defects may be so severe that they are difficult to treat. Treatment options include: