What is patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)?

 June 17, 2017 – 11:53 pm
Heart cross-section with PDA

One type of congenital heart defect is called Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).  Although this defect actually affects the vessels around the heart but not the heart itself, it is typically still considered a congenital heart defect.  The blood flow of a fetus is very different compared to after birth.  The lungs are not used this time since the fetus is able to get oxygen from the placenta.  There is a normal blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus that allows blood to go from the right side of the heart to the aorta.  Therefore the blood is able to bypass the lungs and go directly to the body.

Once the baby is born and begins to breathe, the lungs are included in a new blood flow pattern.  During this time, the pulmonary artery opens to carry blood from the side of the heart to the lungs.  This is also when the ductus arteriosus should close.

For a baby with PDA, this ductus arteriosus fails to close.  The opening can be large or small, with the larger opening obviously being more dangerous.  This congenital heart defect is more common in premature babies and twice as common in girls than in boys.

Symptoms of a PDA include:

  • Breathing difficulties after birth
  • Heart murmur
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath

Source: Congenital Heart Defects

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