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Cyanotic heart disease

  • Alternative Names

    Right-to-left cardiac shunt; Right-to-left circulatory shunt


    Some infants may need to stay in the hospital after birth so they can receive oxygen or be put on a breathing machine. They may receive medicines to:

    • Get rid of extra fluids
    • Help the heart pump harder
    • Keep certain blood vessels open
    • Treat abnormal heartbeats or rhythms

    The treatment of choice for many congenital heart diseases is surgery to repair the defect. There are many types of surgery, depending on the kind of birth defect. Surgery may be needed soon after birth, or it may be delayed for months or even years.

    Your child may need to take water pills (diuretics) and other heart medicines before or after surgery. Be sure to follow the correct dosage. Regular follow-up with your doctor is important.

    Many children who have had heart surgery must take antibiotics before, and sometimes after having any dental work or other medical procedures. Make sure you have clear instructions from your child's heart doctor. It is very important to have your child's teeth cleaned regularly.

    Ask your child's doctor before getting any immunizations. However, in general, your child should have a flu shot every year and keep up with all other immunizations.

    Some patients may need a permanent pacemaker.

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    Expectations (prognosis)

    See the specific disorder. Some of these conditions may cause sudden death.


    Complications of cyanotic heart disease include:

    • Arrhythmias
    • Brain abscess
    • Heart failure
    • Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
    • Impaired growth
    • Infectious endocarditis
    • Polycythemia
    • Pulmonary hypertension
    • Stroke

    Cyanosis is a sign of Eisenmenger syndrome, a condition that occurs in patients with congenital heart disease. Eisenmenger syndrome occurs as a complication of increased blood flow from the left side of the heart directly to the lungs. This results in severe lung diseases and increased pressure on the right side of the heart.

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if your baby has:

    • Bluish skin (cyanosis) or grayish skin
    • Breathing difficulty
    • Chest pain or other pain
    • Dizziness, fainting, or heart palpitations
    • Feeding problems or reduced appetite
    • Fever, nausea, or vomiting
    • Puffy eyes or face
    • Tiredness all the time