24 January 2023

Caring for the hearts of the future by C-Care

C-Care is dedicated to providing high-quality and comprehensive care to adults and children with congenital heart diseases. We understand that these conditions can be life-changing, and we want to ensure that families have the support they need. We are now offering free heart checkups for children suffering from congenital heart diseases as from 30th of January till the 3rd of February. A fee of 1200rs shall be applicable for adults’ (above 18 years old) consultations. Our team of specialists composed of Dr. Stephen Brown and Dr. Dharmesh Ramlugun will assess your child’s needs, and try to provide comprehensive and compassionate care every step of the way. We are committed to providing the care and resources necessary to help your child lead a healthy and happy life. Contact us today to learn more about our free heart checkup program and how we can help your family!

What is congenital heart disease?

Congenital heart lesions are lesions a child is born with. The symptoms of CHD can include a hole in the heart or missing and malformed cardiac tissue. In Mauritius, about 100 babies per annum are born in Mauritius with heart disease. Developing and implementing a dedicated pathway for this is fundamental.

How is this disease diagnosed?

The heart defects vary in severity from mild to life-threatening. Most of these consist of a “hole” (defect) in the heart and from structures remaining open which normally would close after birth. Most of the children are acyanotic (i.e. pink – normal blood oxygen concentration), but the more severe lesions are cyanotic (i.e. blue due to lower oxygen concentration in the blood); it may include kids who have problems with the emergence of the big vessels from the heart also. Valve lesions are also common in childhood and may be either congenital or acquired.

How is the disease treated?

The good news is that as a result of new technologies, we can easily diagnose and treat/improve the vast majority of these. Even if some lesions can be cured using a catheter inserted from the groin, cardiac surgery remains the golden standard for others and surgical outcomes are excellent in the modern era.

Example: Ventricular septal defect (VSD) is the most common congenital heart lesion and occurs in about 30% of children. It is essentially a defect or hole between the two pumping chambers where oxygenated blood unusually meets deoxygenated blood.

Small VSD’s can close spontaneously, while large defects need surgical closure with a patch.

Cardiac surgery offers a radical treatment in most cases of VSDs with low mortality (< 5%) and rare adverse events like heart block or re-operations. However, the cases must be well-studied and planned. Likewise, the Tetralogy of Fallot (one type of heart abnormality which includes a VSD) has a < 3% of mortality rate even if performed before 6 months of age with long-term survival of 85-90%.

However, this can only be achieved via great teamwork between well-trained health professionals in a good-level health institution which is what we are humbly trying to bring forth.

What symptoms should I look for in my child?

A significant heart defect may impair growth and weight gain in a child. The most common symptom is shortness of breath and rapid breathing – this may occur during feeding, or with exertion and children appear “out of breath”. These children also may develop repeated episodes of chest infections often requiring hospitalisation. The doctor may hear a murmur or palpate for a big liver and spleen.

Importance of Life Long Follow Up

Any patient who has a significant heart lesion or was operated on requires life-long follow-up. This is important to ensure a good quality of life and address any residual problems. Routine echocardiography and ECG will be performed but we may require cardiac catheterisation and angiography. Depending on the situation, CT scans or cardiac MRIs might be used.

Apart from congenital lesions, acquired heart diseases may crop up like coronary vessel issues (like classic adult patients) or degenerative valvular diseases. We believe it is fundamental to consider these issues in the Mauritian context and the emerging team will also offer such cardiac care namely coronary artery bypass, valve repair or replacement, aortic surgery, and so on.

What will happen to me when I come to the clinic for the free checkup?

All patients will undergo a clinical examination and where required an ECG. Thereafter a heart sonar will be done. Note that this is not painful.

We, therefore, invite any child or adult who has (or thinks he/she has) a heart condition for a medical visit.

Things to bring

Children: Milk, Pacifier etc, it is best if they are quiet and relaxed.
Adults: Please bring all your reports namely the latest biology, heart ultrasound, and coronary angiogram.

Upon thorough evaluation, proper guidance will be given : medical treatment or not, indication for catheterisation, and discussion for surgery for kids and/or adults.