Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are heart abnormalities that occur before birth. They affect the structure or function of the heart, and can range from mild to severe. CHDs are among the most common birth defects, affecting approximately 1 in 100 babies.
While some CHDs are diagnosed shortly after birth, others may not be diagnosed until later in life. The symptoms of a CHD can vary depending on the severity of the defect.
Symptoms in Newborns and Infants
Common symptoms of CHDs in newborns and infants include:
- Cyanosis (blue-tinged skin, lips, or fingernails)
- Rapid breathing and/or heartbeat
- Poor feeding and failure to thrive
- Excessive sweating
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Swelling of the legs, tummy, or around the eyes
- Frequent respiratory infections
Symptoms in Older Children and Adults
Some symptoms of CHDs may not appear until later in life. These symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath during exercise or activity
- Fatigue and weakness
- Dizziness or fainting
- Chest pain or palpitations
- Heart murmurs
- Swelling of the legs, ankles, or feet
- Difficulty concentrating
It is important to note that not all children and adults with CHDs will experience all of these symptoms. The severity of symptoms will vary depending on the specific type and severity of the CHD.
If you are concerned that your child or you may have a CHD, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the prognosis for people with CHDs.
Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:
- The American Heart Association: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/congenital-heart-defects
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/surveillancemanual/quick-reference-handbook/congenital-heart-defects.html
- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/philadelphia-adult-congenital-heart-center
Please remember that this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about CHDs, please consult with your doctor.
Dr. Kre Johnson is a Board Certified Family Medicine Physician and the sole owner of Brownstone Healthcare and Aesthetics. She is the Medical Director of the City of Birmingham’s Employee Health Clinic-Brownstone BWell Birmingham. She is the Event Producer of Wifeology and the founder of Three Twenty Girls, Inc. She loves God, traveling, and all things Southern!!
Brownstone BWell: Brownstone Healthcare has partnered with the City of Birmingham to offer primary care services to the employees of the City of Birmingham for $0 copayment. This partnership is for preventative services & screenings and sick visits. We partner with your current primary care physician and our goal is to keep you out of the ER and urgent care. We do not share your information with the City of Birmingham. We uphold HIPPA and professional standards. You can visit us at our downtown location 1700 5th Ave N Birmingham, AL 35203 or Trussville: 4643 Camp Coleman Road #117 Trussville, AL 35173 205-202-5650 call for your appointment today.