Whether problems are first noted in the hospital or later by you and your primary care doctor, eventually your baby will be seen by a cardiologist who has experience in treating congenital heart defects.
Because appointments can be brief and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment with the cardiologist. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your cardiologist.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you've noticed in your child, including any that may seem unrelated to a heart defect.
- Write down important personal information, including any family history of congenital heart disease, or any illnesses or potentially negative habits the mother may have had during pregnancy.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Learning that your baby has a serious heart condition and will need surgery is likely to be distressing, making it harder to remember all of the details your doctor may go over with you. If someone is with you, they can help you remember what the doctor said, or they can take notes during the appointment.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions can help you ensure that you cover all of the points you want to. For a congenital heart defect, some basic questions to ask your child's cardiologist include:
- What could be causing my child's symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for these symptoms?
- What kinds of tests will my child need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- What treatments are available, and which do you think is best for my child?
- Will my child need more than one surgery?
- How can I make my child more comfortable?
- Are there any restrictions or special instructions that I need to follow for my child?
- Will my child need to take medications? If so, are there generic alternatives to the medicines you're prescribing?
- What about future pregnancies? Is there any way I can prevent this from happening again?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
Nov. 08, 2012
- When did you first notice symptoms in your child?
- Have your child's symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your child's symptoms?
- Does anything make your child's symptoms worse?
- Single-ventricle defects. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/Single-Ventricle-Defects_UCM_307037_Article.jsp. Accessed Sept. 13, 2012.
- Hay WW, et al.. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 20th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=14. Accessed Sept. 13, 2012.
- Congenital heart defects. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/baby/birthdefects_congenitalheart.html. Accessed Sept. 9, 2012.
- Tricuspid atresia. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/pediatrics/congenital_cardiovascular_anomalies/tricuspid_atresia.html. Accessed Sept. 13, 2012.
- Ohuchi H, et al. Long-term serial aerobic exercise capacity and hemodynamic properties in clinically and hemodynamically good, "excellent," Fontan survivors. Circulation Journal. 2012;76:195.
- Berg C, et al. Prenatal diagnosis of tricuspid atresia: Intrauterine course and outcome. Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2010;35:183.
- Crawford MH, ed. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Cardiology. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=8. Accessed Sept. 13, 2012.
- Infective endocarditis. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/TheImpactofCongenitalHeartDefects/Infective-Endocarditis_UCM_307108_Article.jsp. Accessed Sept. 9, 2012.