Get answers to your heart disease prevention questions.
Right-to-left cardiac shunt; Right-to-left circulatory shunt
Cyanotic heart disease is a heart defect, present at birth (congenital), that results in low blood oxygen levels. There may be more than one defect.
Normally, blood returns from the body and flows through the heart and lungs. It will then leave the heart with enough oxygen to supply the body's tissues.
Heart defects can change the way blood flows through the heart and lungs. This abnormal blood flow (called right-to-left shunt) can result in too little oxygen in the blood moving through the rest of the body.
Cyanotic heart disease causes the child's skin to look blue (cyanosis). This bluish color is most often seen on the lips, fingers, and toes, or during exercise. Some heart defects cause major problems immediately after birth. Others cause few, if any, problems until adulthood.
Congenital heart defects that may cause cyanosis include:
Cyanotic heart diseases may be caused by:
Cyanosis may also be caused by conditions other than congenital heart disease. Such conditions may include lung disease, abnormal forms of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen through the blood), dehydration, and hypoglycemia.
Webb GD, Smallhorn JF, Therrien J, Redington AN. Congenital heart disease. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 8th ed. St. Louis, Mo; WB Saunders; 2007:chap 61.
Cyanotic congenital heart disease: Evaluation of the critically ill neonate with cyanosis and respiratory distress. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 429.
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