Symptoms in the newborn: Approximately 80 to 90 percent of congenital heart defects are apparent at birth or during the first few months of life. They include:
- Cyanosis, or a blueness of the skin, especially in the lips, resulting from inadequate availability of oxygen to the tissues of the body
- A heart murmur, or an abnormal heart sound that can be heard with a stethoscope during a routine physical exam. Murmurs are rated on a scale of 1 to 6, starting with grade1 being barely audible. Most heart murmurs in children are innocent, meaning that they are produced by healthy hearts and will eventually go away on their own.
- Swelling of the legs, abdomen, or area around the eye
- Rapid heartbeat and/or breathing
- Failure to thrive occurs when the infant experiences shortness of breath during feeding and as a result, gains weight at a rate substantially below the growth curve.
Symptoms in child or adult: A small minority of heart abnormalities never result in symptoms. Usually, however, symptoms become more apparent with age. Symptoms in the older child, adolescent, or adult can develop gradually, making some heart defects difficult to recognize. Symptoms can include:
- Heart murmur
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty exercising or doing physical activity
- Chest pain
- Edema, swelling resulting from fluid retention
- Dizziness, or fainting
- Heart palpitations, or suddenly becoming aware of your heartbeat, or the sense that your heart is beating rapidly or irregularly
Last reviewed on 2/11/2009
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