Three Physical Signs Adults With Congenital Heart Defects Shouldn't Ignore

Posted on: 26 March 2018

At one time, babies born with congenital heart defects (CHD) had a very high mortality rate, especially those born with severe defects, such as single-functioning ventricles. Thanks to the advances in pediatric cardiology, babies born with CHD are living well into adulthood. In fact, according to the latest statistics, there are 1.4 million adults in the United States living with CHD.

Many of these adults need ongoing care and should be aware when abnormal symptoms appear. Here are three physical signs adults with congenital heart defects shouldn't ignore.

Signs of Congestive Heart Failure

When the heart can't pump adequately to meet the needs of the body it's called heart failure. Oftentimes, when this occurs, the lungs start to fill with fluid, which is why it can also be referred to as congestive heart failure. Some of the most common symptoms of congestive heart failure include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate

For those who have a congenital heart defect and notice any of these symptoms, they should seek immediate attention at an urgent care clinic or emergency room.

Signs of Abnormal Swelling

For those with CHD, swelling may also be an indication of heart failure. This is why it's important to pay attention to any abnormal swelling, especially in certain parts of the body, such as the legs, feet, and ankles. Another part of the body that can swell due to fluid build-up caused by congestive heart failure is the abdomen. For this reason, many patients with CHD should pay close attention to whether or not their clothes feel too tight or they have unexplained weight gain.

Some patients with CHD who have undergone a heart procedure called the Fontan, are also at a higher risk of liver malfunction, which could cause a type of swelling in the abdomen called ascites.

Signs of an Irregular Heartbeat

Some patients with CHD might acquire an irregular heartbeat as an adult, or after having open heart surgery. There are different types of arrhythmias that patients should be aware of including:

  • Premature or extra beats
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Atrial flutter
  • Ventricular tachycardia

If someone with a congenital heart defect notices any of these types of abnormal rhythms, or they feel their heart is either racing or beating too slowly, they should see a cardiologist as soon as possible. Certain tests like an electrocardiogram or Holter monitor can be done to determine the type of arrhythmia and what can be done to treat it. Sometimes an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator may be necessary.

To learn more, contact a company like MED7 Urgent Care Center