Congenital Heart Defects (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
Testing a baby for congenital heart defects can be done while a woman is pregnant or after a baby's birth. Children and adults who have a heart defect need regular checkups throughout their lives.
Tests during pregnancy
A fetal echocardiogram, which can be done as early as 16 weeks of pregnancy, is the best test before a baby's birth. The test uses sound waves to take pictures of the baby's heart. The fetal echocardiogram may be done if:
Tests after your baby is born
Many congenital heart defects are found in the first month after a baby is born. Your doctor may ask about the baby's symptoms, appetite, and other habits. He or she may do other tests to find a heart problem, such as:
More tests may be needed, depending on the symptoms and type of defect. These may include:
Tests for children and adults
Children, teens, and adults with congenital heart defects need regular checkups. They might have tests to check the health of the heart and to check for complications.
A stress test (exercise electrocardiogram) can be done to check if a child or an adult with a heart defect needs exercise restrictions or to see if exercise performance is changing over time. This test might be done before a child starts school or before a teen or adult starts a new exercise program.
Adults who have congenital heart defects need routine checkups. Be sure you have a primary care physician. You might also need to see your cardiologist regularly, such as once a year.
In families with a history of congenital heart defects, genetic testing may be done.
A baby may be checked for congenital heart defects if:
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