|PATIENT STORY: LIGHT AGUPUGO, 11, H0LDING BROTHER LIAM & JOINED BY SISTER SOPHIA & BROTHER JOSHUA, WAS BORN WITH A CONGENITAL HEART PROBLEM THAT REQUIRED SURGERY TO CORRECT
Heart trouble isn't limited to mom, dad, grandma and grandpa. Children and teens can have cardiac problems, too:
- Heart problems are the most common birth defects, affecting nearly one out of 100 babies born in the U.S., ranging from simple problems kids will outgrow to complex conditions requiring multiple surgeries
- Children also can acquire heart disease as a result of Kawasaki Disease, rheumatic fever, certain viral infections and other causes
- Some kids have problems with their heart rhythm or valves and require regular testing
- High blood pressure, which increases risk of heart attack and stroke, affects 10 to 15 percent of school age kids. It can cause heart problems even in children
- Kids are at increased risk of early onset heart disease if they're obese, smoke, or use cocaine or other drugs, though problems may not show up until they're in their 20s and 30s
Naperville resident Light Agupugo, 11, is one of those one in 100 kids born with a heart defect. But because he was symptom-free, his problem went undetected for years. Then in late 2010 this active, sports-loving boy started to tire and become short of breath easily.
"He wasn't outrunning me in races anymore," says father Chuck Agupugo.
Agupugo brought his son to pediatrician Manju Akhand, MD of Access Pediatrics, who recommended an EKG and a visit to pediatric cardiologist Mehmet Gulecyuz, MD of the Illinois Institute of Pediatric Cardiology.
The EKG provided one clue to the problem: an enlarged left ventricle. Dr. Gulecyuz next performed echocardiograms (ultrasounds of the heart). This led to his diagnosis of a congenital malformation called anomalous right coronary artery.
"Light's right coronary artery was growing from the left side, instead of the right, a misplacement that could reduce the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the heart, and even lead to death," says Dr. Gulecyuz.
Dr. Gulecyuz conferred with Light's family, Dr. Akhand and the committee of pediatric cardiovascular surgeons and pediatric cardiologists at Hope Children's Hospital. His recommendation was that surgery would be the appropriate treatment.
The operation was performed in June 2011 at Hope and today Light reports he feels normal.
“It's good to see Light swimming and riding his bike again,” says Chuck Agupugo. “His care includes check-ups and testing at Edward every few months. I'm so glad we had access to the team of professionals we had – from the diagnosis, which was not easy, to the treatment and follow-up."
The sonographers of Edward Hospital's Cardiodiagnostics Department test more than 600 pediatric patients a year using echocardiography (ultrasound) to take pictures of the heart. In addition, other tests available to pediatric patients include EKGs, Holter monitoring and stress tests. Results are evaluated by pediatric cardiologists on the Edward medical staff.
“We employ six of the 50 sonographers in Illinois who are certified for pediatric cardiology testing," says Dave Zanghi, the department’s director. "Families appreciate having access to these services close to home.”
To learn more about services provided by Edward’s pediatric specialists, visit www.edward.org/children.