Patent ductus arteriosus refers to a heart problem that affects babies soon after they are born. In this medical condition, there is an abnormal flow of blood between the two of the major arteries that connect to the heart. These arteries are called the aorta and pulmonary artery.
Before the baby is born, the arteries are connected by blood vessels referred to as the ductus arteriosus. This blood vessel is an important part of the fetal blood circulation. The ductus arteriosus closes within minutes or at least up to a few days post birth. In certain babies, however, the ductus arteriosus tends to remain open or patent. This opening lets the oxygen-rich blood from the aorta to mix with the oxygen-poor blood from the pulmonary artery; this can strain the heart as well as increase the blood pressure inside the arteries of the lungs.
The only sign of a baby suffering from patent ductus arteriosis is heart murmur, which is an extra or unusual sound that is heard at the time of the heartbeat. Heart murmurs can also have other causes apart from PDA and most of the murmurs do not cause any harm. Some infants may show signs or symptoms of volume overload on the heart as well as excess blood flow in the lungs. Some typical signs and symptoms of PDA include:
• Poor feeding
• Poor weight gain
• Fast breathing
• Shortness of breath
• Working hard to breathe
• Sweating with exertion, such as at the time of feeding
• Tiring easily
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