Children with dysfunction of the right heart chamber (ventricle), which pumps blood to the lungs, have lower tolerance to exercise and at risk of sudden cardiac death in more severe cases. This dysfunction usually sets in progressively and detection at earlier stages is crucial to guiding therapies and interventions that improve symptoms and survival. New ultrasound techniques, makes it easier detect and quantify the problem.
Many potential heart patients that are referred to specialists, turn out not to need specialist care. If general practitioners (GPs) could use handheld ultrasound devices with built-in diagnostic tools, could this improve patient outcome and reduce cost for the health services?
Using a new ultrasound technique, we have been able to visualize and measure how efficiently blood flows through the heart chambers in young children with congenital heart disease. We studied 37 children aged two weeks to 10 years, and among the 26 children, which had congenital heart disease, we found less efficient hearts, meaning they use more energy than a normal heart.