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Can A Person Live With Dextrocardia? Causes, Symptoms And Treatments For This Rare Congenital Condition

Dextrocardia is a rare congenital condition in which the heart is located on the right side of the thoracic cavity or chest region. It is typically diagnosed by accident and frequently co-occurs with other developmental abnormalities. Dextrocardia can happen on its own or in conjunction with other organs shifting positions (situs inversus totalis).

The prevalence of dextrocardia is one in 6000 to one in 35000 live births. It affects both men and women equally. People with the condition often do not require any treatment, unless there is the presence of some symptoms or heart anomalies. [1]

Let's discuss dextrocardia in detail.

Causes Of Dextrocardia

Dextrocardia occurs as a result of abnormal positioning of the heart during the stage of development of the embryo.

Some of the inherited conditions that may lead to dextrocardia include Kartagener syndrome and heterotaxy.

During the development of an embryo, the heart is the first organ to form. The embryonic heart tube serves as the foundation for the foetal heart. The formation of the heart tube is followed by looping, which is a crucial stage in the development of the heart.

Lopping helps establish the position of the ventricle (muscular chamber that helps pump the blood out of the heart) and atria (a heart chamber that receives blood). The heart tube can either loop to the left (L-loop) or to the right (D loop).

Dextrocardia occurs when either of these two loops malfunctions and causes reverse development of the heart chambers during fetal development. [2]

Genetics is considered one of the primary causes of malfunctioning. However, the exact cause is still unknown.

Symptoms Of Dextrocardia

Studies say that people only with dextrocardia usually do not present any symptoms, however, if the condition is followed by other congenital anomalies like Kartagener syndrome, some of the symptoms that may occur include: [3]

  • Fatigue
  • Bluish discolouration of the skin.
  • Tightening of the chest.
  • Jaundice
  • Recurring lung infection.
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Paling of the face.
  • Buildup of fluid in the brain.
  • Irregular heartbeat.

Risk Factors Of Dextrocardia

Genetics is the main risk factor for dextrocardia. When a child inherits the mutated gene from both parents (autosomal recessive), they are at greater risk of developing the condition. [4]

Complications Of Dextrocardia

Some of the complications of dextrocardia may include:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Infertility [5]
  • Heart failure
  • Blockages in the intestines.

What Is Tachycardia? Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Complications, Diagnosis And Treatments

Diagnosis Of Dextrocardia

Diagnosing dextrocardia could be difficult for a medical expert as it is similar to other conditions like cardiac dextroposition, Kartagener syndrome, dextroversion or heterotaxy.

To diagnose this rare congenital condition, a medical expert may look for certain physical symptoms like blushing discoloration of the skin and an audible heartbeat on the right side of the heart. If suspected, they may ask for certain test results like:

  • Electrocardiogram: To determine the heart's rhythm and then to locate the heart. [6]
  • CT scan: It helps identify the position of the heart through an imaging procedure.
  • MRI: It also uses imaging techniques to look at the anatomy of the heart.
  • Nasal brush biopsy: It helps diagnose the Kartagener syndrome. [7]

Treatment Of Dextrocardia

Asymptomatic patients usually have a normal life without any symptoms. For people who experience symptoms that can be treated with methods like:

  • Medications: It includes medicines like antibiotics if there's a presence of infection or expectorants to clear the mucus.
  • Surgery: It includes certain surgical procedures like pacemaker placement if there's a blockage in the heart or intestine-related surgery if there's an obstruction in the intestines. [8]
  • Heart transplantation: It is done in patients with complex dextrocardia.

To Conclude

Dextrocardia is not a life-threatening condition and people with the condition often have a normal lifespan with no symptoms or complications. However, the presence of the condition secondary to other conditions like asplenia or heterotaxy could be fatal and requires immediate medical attention.

Read more about: dextrocardia congenital heart
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