Wrapping up our mini-series titled "Charlie's Screwed Up Heart"
There are three main defects I haven't addressed yet. All three of these deal with Charlie's aorta which is the artery responsible for carrying oxygenated blood out of the heart and distributing it to the entire body. Without this oxygen-rich blood circulating the body faces organ failure and oxygen deprivation in the brain.
Let's breakdown the last three:
AORTIC HYPOPLASIA - a fancy medical term for a small, underdeveloped aorta. Because Charlie's right ventricle isn't functioning and pushing blood out through the aorta - the aorta didn't grow to the proper size. At birth his aorta was about 1/4 the size that would be expected in a normal heart. Very small aorta = very limited blood flow to the body.
AORTIC STENOSIS - in a normal heart all the veins and arteries that lead in and out of the heart have a small valve controlling blood flow. Think of these valves like one-way doors that open and close as the different chambers pump to allow a designated amount of blood to pass through. With aortic stenosis, the valve that connects the heart to the aorta is too small or fails to open properly and doesn't allow enough blood to flow through to the body. Again - too little blood flow through the valve to the aorta = lack of aortic growth.
COARCTATION OF THE AORTA - a doctor's way of saying there is a kink or narrowing of the aorta. Since Charlie's aorta is already ridiculously small any narrowing of the aorta can cause serious issues. It causes his heart to have to pump even harder to pass blood through the narrowed section.
So there you have it....Charlie's heart explained in three short days! Tomorrow we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming complete with some medical updates and maybe even a picture...