Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week is observed in the second week of February in the United States. Regarded as one of the most common birth defects and common cause of infant death from birth defects, congenital heart defects (CHDs) are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. The 2020 campaign observed from February 7–14 aims to promote awareness and education about congenital heart defects (CHDs). Also called congenital heart disease, CHD refers to one or more abnormalities in the structure of a baby’s heart. The condition can vary from mild (such as a small hole in the heart) to severe (such as missing or poorly formed parts of the heart) and can disrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart. The defects can involve the walls of the heart, the valves of the heart, and the arteries and veins near the heart. Most cases of CHDs cause few or no signs and symptoms and are often not diagnosed until children are older. Treatment for CHDs depends on the type and severity of the defect present and may include medications, catheter procedures, surgery, and heart transplants. Cardiologists or other specialists who treat this condition can rely on professional medical billing outsourcing companies to meet their documentation and claim submission tasks.

CHDs are estimated to affect approximately 1 in 110 births every year in the United States, which means an estimated 40,000 babies are impacted by the disease annually. The condition occurs when the heart or blood vessels (near the heart) don’t develop normally before birth. Although the exact cause of heart defects are not known, it is assumed to be genetic and is associated with a combination of multiple genetic and environmental factors. There are different types of congenital heart defects which range from mild to severe consisting of symptoms like rapid breathing, fatigue, cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin, lips, and fingernails), poor blood circulation and swelling in the legs, abdomen or areas around the eyes.

The 2020 Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week aims to generate awareness about the severe, weakening affects of heart defects present at birth, frequency of its occurrence, and educate people about the various screening and treatment modalities available. A CHD is often diagnosed in infancy, or even before birth. However, some defects are harder to detect than others and may not be diagnosed until much later in childhood or even adulthood. Minor defects are most often diagnosed during a routine medical checkup. On the other hand, severe heart problems generally become evident during the first few months after birth. Some babies are blue or have very low blood pressure shortly after birth. Other defects cause breathing difficulties, feeding problems or poor weight gain.

Cardiologists as part of the diagnosis will conduct a physical examination. Imaging tests like electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), chest X-ray or an echocardiogram (ultrasound movie of the heart) may also be performed. Some CHDs may be diagnosed during pregnancy using a special type of ultrasound called a fetal echocardiogram, which creates ultrasound pictures of the heart of the developing baby. In some cases, if these initial tests don’t provide enough information required for a complete diagnosis, additional tests like – cardiac catheterization and angiography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and CT scanning, Holter recording may be necessary. Treatment for CHDs depends on the type and severity of the defect present. In some cases, affected infants and children may need one or more surgeries to repair the heart or blood vessels. In other cases, children can be treated without surgery using a procedure called cardiac catheterization.

Newborn screening for critical congenital heart defects (critical CHDs) may help identify newborns with these conditions and allow for timely care and treatment. Screening for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) for newborns should be done using pulse-oximetry test within 24 hours after birth or shortly before the newborn being discharged from the hospital (if the baby is less than 24 hours of age).

Pediatric cardiologists providing specific treatments for CHD must report the same on their medical claims using the designated medical codes. Physicians and their office staff need to have correct knowledge about the various codes when carrying out the billing and coding procedures. Medical billing services provided by reputable billing and coding companies can help in timely claim submissions for accurate reimbursement. ICD-10 codes for CHD include –

  • Q20 – Congenital malformations of cardiac chambers and connections
  • Q21 – Congenital malformations of cardiac septa
  • Q22 – Congenital malformations of pulmonary and tricuspid valves
  • Q23 – Congenital malformations of aortic and mitral valves
  • Q24 – Other congenital malformations of heart
  • Q25 – Congenital malformations of great arteries
  • Q26 – Congenital malformations of great veins
  • Q27 – Other congenital malformations of peripheral vascular system
  • Q28 – Other congenital malformations of circulatory system

As part of the 2020 CHD observance, a wide range of activities, helpful tools and resources, and campaigns are conducted and shared throughout the country to raise awareness within your family and friends, and the community. People can share statistics and facts about CHD via their social media accounts. People can also share their individual stories in local newspapers. Flyers with facts will be posted in local community bulletin boards.

Take part in CHD Awareness week this February and spread awareness about congenital disabilities around the world.