WASHINGTON — Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel became emotional on Monday after revealing his newborn son was diagnosed with a congenital heart disorder called tetralogy of Fallot. But what exactly is this condition?

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, in a healthy heart, oxygen-poor blood flows into the right atrium and ventricle, through the pulmonary artery and into the lungs to be oxygenated.

The now oxygen-rich blood flows back into the left atrium and ventricle, and is pumped out through the aorta to be circulated into the body.

A heart with tetralogy of Fallot has a hole in the inner wall separating the ventricles, and a narrower pulmonary passageway. This means the heart works harder to pump blood into the lungs, resulting in thicker right ventricle muscles.

Because of the hole in between the ventricles, oxygen-poor blood is allowed to flow directly into the aorta, and the rest of the body. This lack of oxygen causes a bluish tint in the skin, lips and nails.

The exact causes of tetralogy of Fallot remain unknown, and treatment requires surgery. Left untreated, patients are at an increased risk of sudden death, especially in the first three years of life. Many children who have it survive into adulthood but need lifelong medical care to keep them healthy.

Debates over U.S. healthcare has dominated this week’s headlines, as the American Health Care Act passed the House of Representatives. With passage of the House Republican health care bill, there’s a chance people with preexisting conditions such as tetralogy of Fallot will be denied coverage, reports the Washington Post.

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