Congenital Heart Disease

Everything you need to know about Tetralogy of Fallot

 At Heart Heroes we support children with congenital heart disease and their families. Congenital heart disease is a small phrase, which covers a whole host of cardiac conditions.
 The children and their families are fantastic at learning to cope with their particular condition and with the medical intervention, and they do a great job of living as normal a life as possible.
One of our roles at Heart Heroes is to raise awareness of different types of congenital heart disease, and so we here are going to look at the cardiac condition Tetralogy of Fallot.

What is Tetralogy of Fallot?

This condition is also known as ToF or Fallot Tetralogy and it was named after the doctor who spotted it: his name was Fallot. The word Tetralogy means fourfold, because there are four defects found together. So that’s why it is called Tetralogy of Fallot.

So far, so simple…

As we said, patients will have four defects all found at the same time. These defects are:

1. Pulmonary stenosis

What does pulmonary mean? This means ‘of the lungs’. And what about stenosis? This means ‘narrowing’.

So with pulmonary stenosis there is a narrowing at or below the pulmonary valve, making it hard for blood to flow from the right ventricle into the pulmonary artery.

2. Ventricular septal defect (VSD)

The word ventricular means ‘of the ventricles’ and is talking about the pumping chambers of the heart.

Septal means ‘of the septum’ – this is the wall between the right and left ventricles of the heart.

Finally the word ‘defect’ is talking about a hole.

Put them all together, and you get VSD. In other words there is a hole between the ventricles, so blood can leak from one side to the other.

3. Over-riding aorta

This problem leads on from VSD. The entrance to the aorta should only take red (oxygenated) blood around the body.

However, the entrance lies right over the VSD (the hole), which means some deoxygenated blood also gets pumped into it.

4. Right ventricular hypertrophy

With ToF, the final defect is right ventricular hypertrophy. What does this mean? It means the right ventricle becomes thickened (hypertrophy), as it forces blood into the narrowed pulmonary artery.

This is a short explanation, but it is a good starting point if you are trying to find out a bit more about the congenital heart condition Tetralogy of Fallot.

We support families who have children with this condition, and many other conditions that affect their lives. If you want to find out a bit more about congenital heart conditions, including Tetralogy of Fallot, here are some useful links:

Children with Tetralogy of Fallot are usually completely well and live active lives, under the care of a cardiologist.

To the outside world, heart children look completely fine, because their disability is hidden. This can make the children and their families feel isolated.

So this is where we come in. At Heart Heroes we offer support, signposting to services, and regular meet ups where families and children can get together and chat about the issues they face.

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