Long Term Care of Cardiac Anomalies

The term cardiac anomaly refers to structural problems that occur due to abnormal formation of major blood vessels or the heart itself. The presence of an anomaly or defect indicates the problems with the functioning of the heart and paves the way to various, life-threatening even complications. Cardiac anomalies are present at birth.

In fact, they are the most common type of birth defect. According to the CDC, heart defects affect 1%, about 40,000 births per year in the United States. About one in four babies with these anomalies have a critical heart defect. The severity of an anomaly plays a role in the survival of the affected baby, but treatment and proper care can improve quality of life.

In this post, we are going to focus on long-term care for cardiac anomalies.

Table of Contents

Treatment of cardiac anomalies

Not every patient with a cardiac anomaly will require treatment. Some will need to visit a cardiologist regularly for a checkup and observation. However, some patients with a heart defect will need treatment such as surgery or a cardiac catheterization to repair the anomaly or decrease its effects.

Cardiac catheterization involves inserting catheters, special kinds of closure devices, into the heart through blood vessels in the neck or legs. Thanks to these devices, a cardiologist can close a hole in the wall that separates the right and left sides of the heart. The procedure can also widen a stiff valve or narrowed vessel and close abnormal vessels.

Compared to traditional heart surgery, cardiac catheterization is less invasive and has a short recovery time.

Despite treatment of cardiac anomaly in childhood, other conditions may occur later in life. For that reason, additional treatments are considered beneficial. For example, patients with cardiac anomalies usually need treatment for conditions such as congestive heart failure, heart rhythm problems, and pulmonary hypertension.

Long-term care for patients with heart defects

Babies and children with cardiac anomalies have the opportunity to live longer and healthier lives as medical care and treatments for these conditions improve. Many babies with heart defects live well into adulthood, and it’s all thanks to proper long-term care.

If you are a parent or caregiver of a baby with a heart defect, you need to visit the cardiologist regularly. Healthcare professionals will observe the baby, to detect any irregularity that would require additional treatment.

It’s important to keep in mind that even though certain treatments can repair heart anomalies, many people are still not cured. Plus, further problems can develop as a patient is getting older, as mentioned above. This is important because long-term care of cardiac anomalies requires lifestyle measures that support a patient’s health and enables them to improve quality of life.


Long-term care and control of cardiac anomalies also include taking medications. Children and adults with anomalies take medications that address problems associated with their defect. Some drugs strengthen the heart while others regulate blood pressure.

Whether you’re a parent with a child that has a cardiac anomaly or an adult with this problem, it’s important to take medications exactly how they are prescribed. Under no circumstances should you increase or decrease the dosage on your own. If you have concerns about the dosage and other aspects of medications, make sure to consult the healthcare professional who prescribed them.

Diet and nutrition

Infants and children with heart anomalies tend to have high energy requirements but poor intake. They are frequently malnourished. Proper nutrition in these cases can be a challenging task. A patient with heart anomaly may have fluid limitations, feeding intolerance, or other problems that prevent them from feeding properly. Nutrition intervention with close tolerance monitoring is deemed safe and may prevent mortality and morbidity while improving nutrition status.

Caregivers and parents, or even adults with anomalies, should consult and work closely with healthcare professionals and nutritionists to optimize diet. The goal is to consume a heart-healthy diet that enriches the body with vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients.

Generally speaking, the diet should consist of fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods, healthy fats, fish. It’s useful to avoid unhealthy fats, too much salt, sugar-sweetened beverages and foods, and large portions.

Portion control is also important for patients with heart anomalies.

Feeding a baby with a cardiac anomaly can be tricky. Some babies may need feeding supplements to breast milk or formula. Others may even require a feeding tube through the nose. Babies with heart anomalies do best when fed more often and on a specific schedule. Since they get tired quite quickly during feeding, the most practical thing to do is to keep the feeding short and frequent.

Physical activity

Alongside a well-balanced diet, physical activity is a fundamental aspect of a healthy lifestyle. While it may seem better not to do anything out of fear heart function could worsen, regular physical activity can actually make the heart stronger. Routine, moderate exercise is both safe and beneficial.

Parents or caregivers should discuss the type and duration of physical activity with a healthcare provider. It’s useful to instill these healthy habits so that a child grows up with a positive attitude toward exercise.

Adults with cardiac anomalies may also want to consult their doctors if they need advice or have concerns regarding physical activity.

The best and safest type of physical activity for patients with cardiac anomalies is aerobic training. Options are endless here. Aerobic exercise can include anything from brisk walking to stair climbing, hiking, jogging, swimming, rowing, skiing. Engaging in team sports such as basketball is also a good way to do aerobic training.

A patient with cardiac anomaly should pace oneself while performing these activities. For example, you may want to increase the activity, so you breathe fast and hard but still able to carry on a conversation. That’s a great rule of thumb to go by. If you can walk fast enough (or do any other activity) and are still able to speak in full sentences, it means you’re benefiting from your training. It also means your heart is not under too much stress.

Listen to your body. Do not push yourself about limits the body can’t handle. Physical activity doesn’t imply you have to use every bit of your strength or energy to finish training as quickly as possible—no need to time yourself. Instead, focus on your breathing, and you’ll know how to balance it out.

Patients with cardiac anomalies should avoid physical activities that cause straining or grunting. You may also want to stay away from activities that carry a high risk of injuries.

Other long-term care tips

Living with cardiac anomaly and long-term care requires a healthy lifestyle. Besides the above-mentioned aspects, it’s also important to:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Check cholesterol regularly, particularly if a patient is at a high risk of developing high cholesterol e.g., due to a family history
  • Focus on dental hygiene to minimize the risk of infections that could endanger the heart
  • Quit smoking because it narrows blood vessels and may put the heart at risk. Of course, this applies to adults with anomalies
  • Avoid alcohol because, like smoking, it can narrow blood vessels and exhibit a negative effect on cardiovascular health. Like smoking, this applies to adults
  • Follow all recommendations and instructions given by the doctor
  • Consult a doctor if the recommended treatment is making you (or your child) feel worse, but do not stop or modify it on your own
  • Learn as much as you can about the specific cardiac anomaly because the more you know, the more equipped you’ll be to care for it properly
  • Manage stress because it could aggravate your health. Living with a cardiac anomaly is stressful as it is, but life also brings many other stressful situations. We can’t always avoid them, but we can modify how we respond to them. Stress management doesn’t go by specific rules. You can teach your child deep breathing technique or encourage them to do something they find relaxing, e.g., drawing, reading, writing, options are endless. The same applies to adults with anomalies – find a relaxing outlet

Maintain a positive outlook – having a cardiac anomaly requires constant care and consideration about many aspects of your life. It’s easy to feel depressed or like your choices have been limited. Patients with cardiac anomalies should strive to retain a positive outlook, take it one day at a time, and focus on improvements they’ve made regarding their health. For example, don’t focus on activities you shouldn’t do. Instead, focus on activities that you can do and how empowering they can be


Cardiac anomalies can be repaired, in many cases, but may not be cured. Many patients with anomalies can have a good quality of life. It’s all about proper treatment and long-term care. The latter requires a healthy lifestyle with regular physical activity in a moderate intensity. A heart-healthy diet is also crucial. Regular visits to the cardiologist navigate the long-term care so a patient should not miss them.



CMRC Hospital is the specialized provider for Long-term Care and rehabilitation services in Saudi Arabia. With one main facilities in Saudi Arabia, which are designed in a rehabilitation and long-term care hospital with a capacity of 66 beds.

CMRC provides an interdisciplinary clinical approach for Vent Rehabilitation Services which is customized for adults, adolescents, and children. The best rehabilitation services are not only our goal but our ultimate objective is to customize the care plan for each patient and make sure that the patient’s family and their members are integrated into the treatment plan.

When you joined Saudi Arabia hospital for any kind of our rehabilitation services or even for long-term care you will feel as if you are at #Your Second Home.