How is CHD diagnosed?
Thanks to improved technology, a congenital heart defect may be discovered through an ultrasound during pregnancy, from a physical examination after birth or because of a baby’s symptoms. Some defects aren’t discovered until adulthood, when your body puts greater demands on your heart.
During pregnancy, if your healthcare team suspects that you or your child may have a heart defect, you will be referred to a cardiologist or a pediatric cardiologist. Your doctor will do a physical exam and look into your:
signs and symptoms
Tests may include:
pulse oximetry – measures the oxygen in a baby’s blood through a sensor attached to their hand or foot.
echocardiogram – can be done before a child is born.
ECG or EKG (electrocardiogram)
heart MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
genetic testing – may be done if the healthcare team suspects a heart defect is related to a genetic condition.
Some babies may not be diagnosed until they begin to show symptoms days, weeks, or months after birth. What symptoms may indicate an undiagnosed congenital heart defect?
Symptoms of the disease vary according to the severity of the congenital malformation of the heart and its effect on the performance of the heart muscle, and the following are some of the symptoms that a sick child may feel or appear:
Fatigue and exhaustion
When doing any effort, parents notice that their child cannot keep up with the rest of his classmates when playing or practicing physical sports.
Shortness of breath
The child feels difficult to breathe, especially when exerting efforts, climbing stairs, or doing exercise, and parents may notice rapid breathing and fatigue.
Increase the number of heartbeats
The child feels his heartbeat is strong and fast, and sometimes it is irregular. Parents notice this also, especially when placing the hand on the child's chest.
especially the lips, tongue and extremities, and this is usually in congenital heart anomalies accompanied by cyanosis.
Recurrent chest infections
An example of this is pneumonia and frequent wet cough accompanied by sputum.
Change the color of the nails and their swelling
it is noticed that the nails are deformed and enlarged and their shape may resemble the shape of a drum stick.
It is observed in a nursing child accompanied by excessive sweating, shortness of breath and the inability to complete feeding.
where the newborns notice that the child's weight is not gaining in the normal way required.
Loss of consciousness
for short periods of time.
The presence of an abnormal voice
or what is called (snuffing) or a murmur in the heart, and it is usually discovered when examining the child for any reason, and often the voice is benign and goes away automatically.
Swelling of the body's organs
This is observed in severe cases of heart failure, due to the inability of the heart to pump blood as required.
Chest pain and paleness.
If your baby is experiencing any of these symptoms seek medical attention immediately.
Minor defects are most often discovered at routine well-check appointments. Your pediatrician may notice a murmur which could indicate the presence of a congenital heart defect.
If a heart defect is suspected an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) will likely be recommended. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create images of the hearts chambers, valves, and vessels. A cardiologist will evaluate how the blood moves through the heart and measurements can be taken of the heart’s structures.
In some cases, heart defects may go undetected until adolescence or early adulthood. These cases often require rapid intervention due to a sudden onset of symptoms.
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