Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

Table of Content

Did you know that about 610,000 people die from a heart disease every single year. Heart disease, although it can occur to anyone, it is most commonly found in newborns and the elderly. HLHS is a very serious condition where its considered a congenital heart defect. A congenital heart defect is an abnormality/disease that is presented at birth. This disease is very rare and very deadly. The survival rate for newborns is just about 50%.

HLHS is defined as rare congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. If a baby is born with HLHS, the left side of the heart isn’t properly formed, so it can’t effectively pump blood to the body. Therefore, the right side of the heart must pump blood to the lungs as well as to the rest of the body all on its own. Usually for the heart to do this, the baby must have a series of surgical procedures. Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome will have a lifelong effect on the person’s physical, social, and mental/emotional health triangle.

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First, HLHS will have a long list of physical complications that a person will encounter in their life. Since the heart is generally extremely weakened, tiring easily will occur, a lot of arrhythmias, fluid build up in the lungs, abdomen, legs, and sometimes the feet. It can also lead to a growth restriction, formation of blood clots that can lead to a stroke or a pulmonary embolism. There can be a need for additional heart surgeries or even a complete transplant and there can be development problems related to the nervous system and the brain.

Overall, there will be a general weakness of the whole body including the emotional state. Now if a person were to have to get a complete transplant that’s a whole other list of complications. They would be in the hospital for weeks, have trouble gaining strength back, and have to take a mouthful of medications every single day, maybe even multiple times a day. As you can see here, HLHS has numerous effects on someone’s physical part of the health triangle.

Next, a person’s social life could turn to problematic from having this disease. HLHS can lead to months upon months of sitting in the hospital. Obviously this will affect someone’s life because they can’t go outside, can’t do stuff with their friend’s or anything of that matter. This can cause depression, a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act, which would affect them severely.

A few empirical research reports have shown that psychosocial risk factors(from sitting in a hospital) include low socioeconomic status, lack of social support, stress at work/ family life, and even anxiety. To sum this up, having this disease not only will have serious effects on someone’s physical well being, but their social being as well.

Next, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome will have some effects on a person’s mental and emotional state of wellness. 88% of people that had HLHS said that their whole process of dealing with the disease did affect their emotional well being greatly. Some statistics show that 77% of patients felt anxious before surgery, 51% felt depressed, and 30% felt sad. 47% of patients were scared, 18% felt alone/isolated, and 38% felt like no one understood what they were going through.

These are only a few of the small affects people reported having before, during, and after surgery/ recovery. Many people also said that these symptoms carried on into their ability to work and even worsening many relationships. As I have stated here, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome can really hurt someone’s cognitive condition by putting them through stress, pressure, anxiety, depression, etc.

Lastly, for almost every disease there is a cure or solution. Now for HLHS there’s not many options. Treatment for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome requires either a three-step surgical procedure called staged palliation or a heart transplant. Three staged palliation is considered one of the major achievements of congenital heart surgery in recent years. Palliation is divided up into the Norwood Procedure, Bidirectional Glenn Operation, and the Fontan Operation.

The Norwood Procedure, briefly explained, is performed shortly after birth. What it’s doing it converting the right ventricle into the main ventricle.( pumping blood to both the lungs and the body.) A connection called a shunt is placed between the pulmonary arteries and the aorta to supply blood to the lungs.

The Bidirectional Glenn Operation is usually performed about six months after the Norwood to divert half of the blood to the lungs when circulation through the lungs no longer needs as much pressure. The shunt is disconnected and the right pulmonary artery is connected directly to the superior vena cava. This sends half of the oxygen poor blood to the lungs without going through the ventricle.

Finally, there is the Fontan Operation. This is the third and final stage, usually performed about 18 to 36 months after the Glenn. This time the inferior vena cava is connected to the pulmonary artery by creating a channel through the heart to direct blood. At this point in time, all oxygen poor blood can passively flow through the lungs. There is very limited options on what to do as a possible solution for HLHS. Even though these procedures are not a guarantee that they will work, they have had very high success rates in the past.

In conclusion, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome is a very serious disease has many results on a person’s entire life. In this essay, you should’ve have learned that Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome will have a lifelong effect on the person’s physical, social, and mental/emotional health triangle. All the way from being anxious, depressed to paralysis and even death is some cases. It’s very important to show your support for people going through this disease. Be there to talk to them, make sure they’re mental state is good, and keep them updated with doctor visits.

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Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. (2022, May 14). Retrieved from


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