I thought that I would do one post describing Tetralogy of Fallot and how it relates to Lauren. This heart defect is actually four defects of the heart.
1) Ventricular Septal Defect (also called a VSD) is a hole between the right and left ventricles of the heart. Also, can be referred to as “a hole in the heart”. Lauren actually had two holes in her heart.
2) Pulmonary stenosis – a narrowing of the valve and artery that connect the heart and the lungs. In Lauren’s case, she had pulmonary atresia, not just a narrowing of the valve and artery to the lungs, but she actually had no pulmonary artery or pulmonary valve.
3) Overriding aorta – the artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body is not in the normal place.
4) Right ventricular hypertrophy -the muscle wall of the right ventricle is thicker and larger than normal. Lauren’s heart was over half the size of her body.
Lauren’s defect is also called Complicated Tetralogy of Fallot or Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia. Since she had no true pulmonary artery or valve, and an overriding aorta, her body did not get the oxygen rich blood that it needed. Because of this, she was “cyanotic” which is a term that describes the bluish-purple color to the skin. It also causes the lips to be a dark bluish-purple color as well as the feet.
When listening to the heart with a stethoscope, a “heart murmur” can be heard. This is a whooshing sound caused by the flow of blood in or near the heart. You can actually hear Lauren’s heart murmur if you put your ear to her chest. Hers is very loud.
With the severity of Lauren’s heart defects, it is a mystery to me why it was not picked up earlier. She had her regular check-ups at one month, two, four and six months, as well as sick visits. I am so thankful for the pediatrician who took one look at her and recognized the symptoms.