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Congenital Heart Disease in Children


Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a term used to describe defects in the structure of the heart. It may also be called congenital heart defect. Congenital means your child was born with the heart defect. Your child will need life-long monitoring of CHD.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.


  • Diuretics help your child's body get rid of extra fluid. He or she may urinate more often with this medicine.
  • Heart medicine helps your child's heart beat stronger or more regularly.


  • Blood tests measure the amount of oxygen in your child's blood. A heart defect can lower your child's blood oxygen level.
  • X-ray, CT, or MRI pictures may show the size and shape of your child's heart. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help his or her heart show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious damage. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any metal in or on his or her body.
  • A Doppler ultrasound test uses sound waves to measure blood flow through your child's veins and arteries.
  • An EKG records your child's heart rhythm and how fast his or her heart beats. It is used to check for heart enlargement and abnormal heart rhythms.
  • An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound. Sound waves are used to show the structure and function of your child's heart.
  • A stress test helps your healthcare provider see how well your child's heart works when it is under stress. His or her heart function may be tested while walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bicycle. Medicine may be used instead to put your child's heart under stress.
  • Cardiac catheterization is used to show the blood vessels in your child's heart. A catheter is threaded into your child's heart through a blood vessel in his or her arm, leg, or neck. Contrast liquid is injected into an artery. Then x-rays of your child's blood flow are taken. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

A pulse oximeter

is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your child's blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your child's foot, toe, hand, finger, or earlobe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your child's oxygen level is low or cannot be read.


  • A catheter procedure may be used to repair a defect. A catheter is a long, thin tube. Your child's healthcare provider will move the catheter through a vein or artery until it is near the defect. He or she may place a patch or plug on a hole in your child's heart. To widen a narrowed area, a small balloon device attached to the catheter may be inflated. This may also widen a narrowed valve in the heart.
  • Surgery may be needed to repair the defect. Your child may need surgery to have a heart valve repaired or replaced. Surgery can also help repair problems in blood vessels that did not form correctly. A heart transplant may be needed if the defect is severe and other treatments do not work. Your child may need more surgery over time.


Your child's risk for an abnormal heart rhythm is increased. He or she may develop endocarditis (infection in the lining of his or her heart) or heart failure. Your child may also develop pulmonary hypertension or have heart valve problems. Your child's risk for stroke is increased if blood cannot flow correctly to his or her brain.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.