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    Symptoms of Congenital Heart Defects

    Congenital heart defects may be diagnosed before birth, right after birth, during childhood, or not until adulthood. It is possible to have a defect and no symptoms at all. Sometimes, it can be diagnosed because of a heart murmur on physical exam or an abnormal EKG or chest X-ray in someone with no symptoms.

    In adults, if symptoms of congenital heart disease are present, they may include:

    • Shortness of breath
    • Limited ability to exercise
    • Symptoms of heart failure (see above) or valve disease (see above)

    Congenital Heart Defects in Infants and Children

    Symptoms of congenital heart defects in infants and children may include:

    • Cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails, and lips)
    • Fast breathing and poor feeding
    • Poor weight gain
    • Recurrent lung infections
    • Inability to exercise

    Symptoms of Heart Muscle Disease

    Many people with heart muscle disease, or cardiomyopathy, have no symptoms or only minor symptoms, and live a normal life. Other people develop symptoms, which progress and worsen as heart function worsens.

    Symptoms of cardiomyopathy may occur at any age and may include:

    • Chest pain or pressure (occurs usually with exercise or physical activity, but can also occur with rest or after meals)
    • Heart failure symptoms (see above)
    • Swelling of the lower extremities
    • Fatigue
    • Fainting
    • Palpitations (fluttering in the chest due to abnormal heart rhythms)

    Some people also have arrhythmias. These can lead to sudden death in a small number of people with cardiomyopathy.

    Symptoms of Pericarditis

    When present, symptoms of pericarditis may include:

    • Chest pain which is different from angina (chest pain caused by coronary artery disease); it may be sharp and located in the center of the chest. The pain may radiate to the neck and occasionally, the arms and back. It is made worse when lying down, taking a deep breath in, coughing, or swallowing and relieved by sitting forward.
    • Low-grade fever

    • Increased heart rate

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on January 29, 2015
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