Transposition of the great arteries (TGA) is a rare and serious congenital heart defect. In this condition, the two main arteries that leave the individual's heart are transposed or reversed. TGA is typically identified before birth or within the first several weeks of an infant's life. In a healthy individual, the pulmonary artery that blood takes from the heart to pick up oxygen from the lungs is attached to the right ventricle. The oxygenated blood returns to the heart and flows through the left atrium and left ventricle, and from there, the oxygenated blood flows through the aorta to tissues around the body. When transposition of the great arteries is present, however, the aorta connects to the right ventricle, and the pulmonary artery connects to the left ventricle. This arrangement causes the oxygen-poor blood to flow into the right atria, through the right ventricle, into the aorta, and back to the body's tissues. The blood never reaches the lungs to pick up oxygen, so oxygen-poor blood continuously circulates throughout the body.
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Lack Of Appetite And Poor Weight Gain
Infants affected by TGA often exhibit a lack of appetite and poor weight gain as a manifestation of their heart defect. The tissues around the infant's body do not receive enough oxygen to function normally as a result of their condition. The infant's body responds to this oxygen shortage by making the heart beat faster to help compensate. The inefficient pumping of the heart and the high rate of pumping causes the infant's metabolism to be faster than normal. Often times, infants affected by transposition of the great arteries will appear to have little to no appetite because their body simply does not have enough energy leftover to eat or feed properly. The infant will not gain weight at a regular rate because their body is burning off more calories than it is consuming. In order for the infant to properly gain weight, more calories than normal would have to be consumed to provide both the struggling heart and other tissues with enough energy to simultaneously carry out their functions.
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